A veteran ship pilot is dead following a morning accident off the Panama City coast.
The U.S. Coast Guard says 73-year-old Frank Knowles fell to his death while attempting to board a ship at the Panama City sea buoy.
They say Knowles slipped off a ladder while trying to board the 656-foot bulk carrier "Pipit Arrow". The Coast Guard dispatched a helicopter from New Orleans and a fixed-wing aircraft from Mobile to aid in the search. Knowles' body was recovered by a 45-foot rapid response vessel from the Coast Guard Station Panama City
Knowles who was a former Coast Guardsman, worked as a pilot bringing ships into Port Panama City.
Knowles is survived by his wife, a son, two daughters and two granddaughters.
The Florida Harbor Pilots Association (FHPA) Friday released the following statement attributed to Captain Stuart Lilly, president of the FHPA, regarding the passing of Captain Frank Knowles, who lost his life in a tragic boarding accident today while fulfilling his responsibilities to the state and to the public. Captain Knowles was a licensed harbor pilot of the St. Andrew Bay Pilots Association, which serves the Ports of Panama City and Port St. Joe, and also a harbor pilot for the Port of Pensacola.
"We are deeply saddened today at the loss of one of our fellow harbor pilots and a dear friend. Captain Frank Knowles has been a dedicated and brave harbor pilot since he was licensed in 1976.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Gail, and his family.
"Words cannot express the grief and sadness that every harbor pilot across the state feels today at this tragic loss.
"According to state and federal protocol, every accident is thoroughly investigated. Further details will necessarily have to await the outcome of that investigation."