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Jul 7, 2022

One man swims to shore after small boat capsized in Mulberry pond, other man’s body recovered by PCSO divers hours later

Media Contact: Brian Bruchey, PIO

A Bartow man apparently drowned Wednesday, July 6, 2022, after he and another man fell from a small aluminum boat in a Mulberry pond while fishing.

The body of 62-year old Bruce Morgan was recovered by divers from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office Underwater Search and Rescue Team (USART) at about 8:52 p.m. 

The other man was identified as 50-year old William Franklin from Mulberry. He told deputies that he attempted to help Mr. Morgan but started to become entangled in the thick underwater vegetation. 

“This is such a tragedy…our prayers are with Mr. Morgan’s family and friends. What makes this drowning more tragic is that it could have been avoided with the required safety equipment such as life jackets or floatation devices. I cannot stress enough how important it is for each person on a watercraft to have some sort of safety equipment to help keep them afloat in situations like this.”Grady Judd, Sheriff 

Deputies and Polk County Fire Rescue were dispatched at around 4:47 p.m. Wednesday to the pond which is located north of Arnaz Drive.

Divers located the boat approximately 50 yards off shore in about 12 feet of water. 

Mr. Morgan was found about 20 yards from shore in about 9 feet of water. 

The investigation is ongoing.