Missing jet skier’s body found day after son, 3, discovered alone on Alafia River island

William George Morris
William George Morris

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GIBSONTON, Fla. (WFLA) – Search crews on Tuesday found the body of a man who vanished while jet skiing with his 3-year-old son. But, detectives are still faced with a daunting mystery –what happened to William George Morris?

Morris’ body was found Tuesday morning about 1/2 mile west of the island where his 3-year-old son was found alone and crying on Tuesday.

Morris had set out on an adventure with his son Monday afternoon around 3:45.  They left together on a jet ski. Morris said they’d be gone for about an hour.

He never returned.

As the afternoon wore on, with no sign from the father-son duo, Morris’ wife became worried. She began calling, trying to locate the two. When she dialed the number on FaceTime, the little boy picked up. The little boy was crying on the phone saying his daddy was gone.

The mom became frantic. She quickly used GPS coordinates for the iPhone to locate the child and called 911 immediately. “We couldn’t get out there fast enough,” Hillsborough Sheriff’s Colonel Chad Chronister told WFLA. “We were anxious to get to the child and bring him to safety.”

And, they did. According to investigators, the little boy was found on the island with his dad’s cell phone, wallet and life jacket.

However, the father was not there. His jet ski was floating nearby.

Crews conducted a methodical and nonstop search for Morris. Multiple dive teams, the HCSO aviation unit, investigators on the ground and even the U.S. Coast Guard were brought in to assist in the search.

“We found a little boy, and that’s great news. We need to find his father,” said Colonel Chronister prior to the discovery of Morris’ body. “But, the tide has been difficult. Also, the terrain underwater is quite dangerous, so we are going through The river grid by grid and we will search to the mouth of the Gulf.”

So, what happened to Morris? Did he drown? Did he hit his head?  Was he pulled under by the current?  While those questions are being asked, investigators are exploring every possibility.

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