MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — It’s a missing boater mystery — 63-year-old Fraser Horne went missing on Friday. His boat and his dog were recovered but Horne was nowhere to be found.
Horne is a snowbird from Calgary, Canada. During the winters, he’s known for taking out his 30-foot-boat with his golden retriever, Toula.
On Friday, he was out at Egmont Key and never came home. After his wife contacted authorities, the US Coast Guard launched a massive search along with a number of local agencies.
Late Friday night, search crews found Horne’s boat off of Mead Point. The engines were on and the boat was in neutral. Crews found a wallet, keys and shoes inside.
The next day, Horne’s dog Toula was found by a Good Samaritan at Fort De Soto. After searching more than 2,000 square miles over a 46-hour period, the Coast Guard reluctantly suspended the search.
Horne was well known at the Bradenton Beach Marina, where he stored his boat.
“He knew what he was doing, he had been [boating] a long time, he had the skills,” said his friend John DeLeon.
Horne was very kind and friendly toward the staff.
“He was a genuinely nice guy, laid back, easy going, never got on you about anything, just had a great personality to him,” said DeLeon.
Friends and colleagues at the marina have a theory as to what could’ve happened to him.
“When you go boating by yourself, it’s easy to have an accident and fall overboard, so when you hear stories like this, that’s the first thing I think is maybe he slipped and fell or something happened where he ended up in the water,” said dockmaster Mike Bazzy.
Horne walked with a cane and had difficulty getting around.
“He walked with a cane, but he still got on and off the boat ok, he operated the boat ok, but he was limited in his ability to move around,” said DeLeon. “When the winds come up, it’s short small waves that can jolt you and knock you out of the boat if you’re by yourself.”
They say his boat was in good shape.
“It’s a good-sized boat but its also small enough where it’s easy to grab onto things. It’s not like he had to walk a long distance on the boat where he had to hold onto something,” said Bazzy.
“He had a decent sized boat, very nice boat, well kept, good shape,” said DeLeon.
Horne was beloved at the Bradenton Beach Marina, and friends there are still hoping for a holiday miracle.
“I hope they find him and he’s ok,” said Bazzy.
The incident is currently under investigation.
“Toula, our Golden retriever is at home in good health and I would like to thank the good Samaritans who found her Friday night,” said Michele Horne, Fraser’s wife. “I also would like to thank the Coast Guard and the many other rescue agencies who searched for Fraser. This is an emotionally difficult time and we ask everyone to respect our family and friends privacy while we grieve for Fraser.”