The body of a 19-year-old student was recovered from a Florida lake on Thursday — the day after he fell overboard while on a boat trip with friends.
Officials pulled Graham McGrath from the murky waters of Lake Como around 11:20 a.m., ending a frantic 16-hour search for the missing teen.
“We hoped and prayed that we would find him in good health,” said Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said at a press conference. “Unfortunately that was not the case.”
Marceno said no foul play was suspected at this time, but has not been ruled out either.
McGrath fell over the side of a wake boat just before 7 p.m. Wednesday while enjoying the lake with 13 friends.
Lake Como, located about 15 miles southeast of Fort Myers, borders Florida Gulf Coast University, where McGrath attended and was a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity.
He was the only FGCU student aboard the private boat, which could carry 16 people.
How the 19-year-old “went over the boat” and “never returned” has yet to be determined.
“I can tell you they were swimming, they were recreating — like we want Florida residents to do,” Marceno said.
“It’s a very, very unfortunate situation and accident.”
Rescuers searched the lake all night but, according to the sheriff, had difficulty distinguishing objects in the muddy “zero-visibility” water with dramatic drop heights of up to 30 feet.
Officials used helicopters and dive teams, as well as sonar technology, to locate McGrath, who was eventually found 1,000 feet offshore.
It is not yet clear what the teen’s cause of death is, but officials noted there were no physical signs of trauma on his body.
Marceno quickly debunked theories that McGrath was struck by a boat propeller, which recently led to the tragic death of New York publisher Adrienne Vaughan during a family vacation in Italy.
Whether alcohol or drugs played a role in the tragic accident is also being investigated.
The county medical examiner will prepare toxicology reports as part of the autopsy, Marceno said.
The thirteen friends who were on board when McGrath slipped below the surface are also being questioned, but are said to be cooperating.
“I will tell you that everything we do is suspicious in nature, and until we actually prove otherwise, we treat everything as if it were,” Marceno told reporters.
According to his fraternity, McGrath was just a week away from celebrating his 20th birthday.
“Graham was loved by our entire Brotherhood along with his friends and family,” Pi Kappa Alpha wrote on Instagram.
“Graham had a kind soul because his smile could be seen by all. His ambitious nature and captivating personality could show what it means to be a true PIKE… We Love you Graham.”
FGCU, which is in its second week of classes, is offering free counseling services in the wake of the tragedy.