Body of missing boater recovered at Palestine Lake
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Media contact: Karen Parker, 386-758-0525
The body of a missing Lake City man, who was reported overdue
from a fishing trip Saturday night, has been recovered from
Palestine Lake, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission (FWC) officials.
Norris S. Demeritte (DOB 08/31/58) was reported overdue, along
with his mother, Emma G. Kelly (DOB 12/23/36), after they had been
fishing on Lake Palestine near Lake Butler. Kelly's body was
located at 7:30 a.m. Sunday on the south end of the lake.
Demeritte's body was found this morning and taken to a medical
Union County Sheriff Jerry Whitehead said, "This is a very
tragic incident, and we will keep the family and friends in our
"We appreciate the hard work and dedication of all the mutual
aid rendered during this search. I'd also like to thank the
Department of Corrections for their K-9 unit, and their support
staff for all their assistance. The Union County Road Department
also helped out by grading the road leading to the boat ramp,"
Columbia County Sheriff Mark Hunter said, "Our hearts go out to
the family. Everyone who was involved in the search is saddened by
this event. We just hope this brings a little closure for the
family and friends who waited patiently while we searched the
According to FWC officers, the two arrived at the lake at around
8 a.m. Saturday. After they didn't return from a day of
fishing, the FWC was notified. Officers went to the lake and found
their 14-foot open fishing boat floating on Lake Palestine, with no
one on board, at approximately 1 a.m. Sunday.
A search began for Demeritte and Kelly, involving the FWC,
deputies from the Columbia County and Union County sheriffs'
offices, members of the Department of Corrections and the U.S.
Forest Service. Weather conditions hampered the search Monday.
Texas-based Equusearch Search and Recovery provided equipment
and expertise to assist in locating the victim, at their own
Maj. Lee Beach, regional commander for the FWC, said, "The
partnership between the agencies involved in the search was
amazing, and I'm extremely pleased with our efforts."
The family expressed heartfelt gratitude for the efforts made by