A Blountstown man lost his life this weekend while boating on the river he loved so much.
Rescue workers recovered the body of Jefferie Scott Rector, 28, Monday morning following a two day search.
According to Lt. Gary Applewhite of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Rector was discovered near where the accident occurred approximately one mile south of the Chattahoochee boat landing.
FWC Investigator Tony Brunson said Rector and Mark Hamilton, 29, of Marianna, were headed north on the river Saturday afternoon in a 15-foot aluminum boat, powered by a 75-horsepower motor, when they attempted to go around a navigation buoy. Brunson said it’s unclear exactly what happened, but as they made a sharp turn, the vessel hit a wake or “something” that caused both men to be ejected.
Neither man wore a life jacket.
Hamilton told officers, after he and Rector were ejected, the boat began circling wildly and struck Rector. Hamilton was pulled from the river by a fisherman who was nearby.
“Jeff was so talented,” his aunt, Debbie Smith, told The County Record Monday afternoon. “He was full of life. He loved everybody, he loved the river, he loved to party.”
On Saturday, Jeff borrowed his aunt and uncle’s boat, then he and his friend, Mark, launched at Ocheesee Landing and headed up the river. “He hit a wake off another boat and we have stick steering on our boat,” Debbie remarked. “I think he probably turned it to the right too sharp.” When he was thrown out of the boat, Jeff reportedly was cut. “Apparently, it was an artery,” said Debbie.
Hamilton was treated on the scene by Gadsden EMS. Rescue workers from Gadsden, Jackson, Liberty, and Bay counties searched the river up until Monday morning when Jeff was found in some pilings near the Sneads port. “My husband and I searched the river all day [Sunday] and we looked right there,” Debbie remarked. She and the entire family extend their appreciation to all the rescue workers who searched for Jeff.
Debbie explained that Jeff lost his father when he was only nine years old and she was blessed to have him spend many of his growing up years in her home. She said Jeff had a great job as a crane operator working offshore in Louisiana. His son, Joseph, 8, and daughter, Jocelyn, 6, now reside in Louisiana, but attended Blountstown Elementary School during the past year.
“I thank everybody for their prayers because we got Jeff back and that’s what we’ve been praying for,” said Debbie.
In addition to his children, aunt, and uncle, Jeff is survived by his mother, Tammy Bottoms, several siblings, and a host of relatives and friends. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Adams Funeral Home in Blountstown. Visitation is planned from 6 to 8 p.m. tonight, Wednesday, June 3, with the funeral set for 2 p.m. Thursday in the Adams Funeral Home Chapel. For the complete obituary, turn to page 10.