The search for a missing Franklin County oysterman ended Tuesday afternoon, nearly 30 hours after his boat sank in Apalachicola Bay.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the body of Brandon Wayne "Bruno" Creamer was found about a mile from where he was last seen Monday morning. His companion, Billie Murray of Eastpoint, was rescued by another boater but Creamer had disappeared below the surface before he could be reached.
The agency was assisted in its efforts by the Franklin County Sheriff's Office, Gulf County Sheriff's Office and several private vessels.
Divers using handheld sonar units began the second day of the search with an inspection of Creamer's submerged vessel. The boat sits intact in about 10 feet of water, several hundred yards west of the Bryant Patton Bridge connecting Eastpoint to St. George Island.
Strong currents and low visibility made diving difficult, said Lt. Charlie Wood of the FFWCC's Division of Law Enforcement. "As strong as they were, the divers were having problems staying there and the water visibility is very, very dim," Wood said.
The FFWCC later expanded the search area until forced to call off the dive when the weather took a turn for the worse. Less than an hour later, at about 2 p.m. local time, the pilot of a FFWCC helicopter spotted Creamer's body.
It was the ending no one wanted. "We always hold out hope that someone is alive and that's why we keep looking," Wood said.
Creamer, 21, had been oystering nearly his entire life. His mother, Maggie, told News 13 that Bruno began helping his father and uncle work the oyster beds when he was eight years old but never learned to swim. He was not wearing a life jacket when his boat was swamped.
Lt. Wood said very few people get a second chance on the water. "You need to make sure your safety equipment is up to date and in good working condition," Wood said. "You have to be careful… you have to use good judgment because it can go wrong in a hurry."
When a day on Apalachicola Bay went wrong for Bruno Creamer, it broke a community's heart. "It's like losing one of our own, so it's a personal thing for us," Lt. Wood said.
Maggie Creamer has felt the pain of losing a child before. Several years ago, her 23 month old child drowned, she said.