A Seagrove Beach man was taping a storm rolling in over the Gulf of Mexico from his balcony Aug. 18 when he noticed people splashing and yelling out near the second sandbar.
The man, who did not want his name used, kept the camera rolling as a dune buggy rolled up and two lifeguards headed out to recover the body of a 47-year-old visitor from Scotland.
The victim was identified as Edwin Gerald Smart, according the Walton County Sheriff’s Office incident report. Sheriff''s Office spokeswoman Catherine Rodriguez said he was from Scotland.
Smart had been playing in the water about 100 yards from shore with his 9- and 13-year-old sons just before noon, according to the WCSO incident report.
His sons told a deputy that their father began to struggle to stay above water. One of the boys tried to help his father but couldn’t keep him from going under, the report said.
When Smart surfaced, he was floating facedown, the boys said.
They swam back to shore and asked people to help find their father, but no one could locate him.
About 30 minutes after the initial 911 call, guards found Smart floating facedown about 600 feet west of where he was last seen, the report said.
He had no medical conditions and had recently passed a physical, according to the call history records.
Red flags were flying and there were 5 to 6 foot waves, the report said.
An autopsy will determine the cause of death, though Rodriguez told the Northwest Florida Daily News that a “medical event” rather than drowning was to the cause of death.
South Walton Fire District, which provides lifeguards through its Beach Safety Division, said the incident occurred on a non-guarded beach, within sight of a red flag. The incident was reported to the Walton County Tourist Development Council, as is required under the fire district’s contract.