FWC Investigators Appeal For Public’s Help

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Investigators with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) are putting together pieces of the puzzle surrounding the death of 24-year-old kayaker Eric Toothaker in Santa Rosa Sound on Monday.  However, they still need the public’s help.

“We know Eric sent a text message to his wife at approximately 1 p.m.  We also know that the witnesses who came forward with the kayak and paddle reported finding them before 2 p.m.,” said Lt. Doug Berryman, the FWC’s chief boating accident investigator.

“We need anyone who was in the area of the Woodlawn Beach Boat Ramp (near Gulf Breeze) on Monday from noon to 2 p.m. or after, who might have seen Eric and his blue kayak or might have heard anything about his death, to call us.”

The reporting number is 888-404-3922.

Berryman said the Pensacola medical examiner will conduct an autopsy on Toothaker sometime Wednesday.

Toothaker and his wife lived in Navarre.  He was an Airman 1st Class assigned to the 1st Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Hurlburt Field.

His wife reported him missing on Monday after he failed to return from a kayaking trip to the sound.  Searchers found his body shortly after 7 a.m. Tuesday, approximately one-half mile from the boat ramp.