Swimmer’s disappearance stresses dangers of currents in waterways

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CAPE CORAL, Fla.- It’s been two days since 21-year-old Javier Castro vanished while trying to save his siblings who were caught in a strong current off Gasparilla Island State Park.

Castro’s sister and two brothers were rescued by bystanders at Range Light beach on Boca Grande Saturday afternoon. Crews searched for Castro by boat and a helicopter for hours, but there was no sign of him.

“I can’t imagine it, just cannot imagine that,” said Ned Scantlebury who lived next door to the Castro family.

Scantlebury says they were always together and always offered to lending hand, “very, very loving family and very respectful, just the kind of neighbor you dream about having.”

Those close to the family say all that’s left to do is pray that the family will find peace.

“Part of each one of their hearts has been torn out because like I said, they lived and breathed for those kids,” said sheila Jenkins, a friend of the family. “Everything is about doing things together as a family.”

Coast Guard crews covered 250 square nautical miles during 20 searches by air and sea looking for Castro. The search for Castro was suspended Sunday.

“Until you lose somebody in your family or a loved one, you just have no idea,” Scantlebury said. “You know we can imagine, but it doesn’t even come close to what they’re going through.”

Search crews say strong currents at Boca Grande Pass likely swept Castro away and into the Gulf of Mexico. Experts add Boca Grande is one of the most dangerous places to swim in Southwest Florida.

“If that current gets you and you get caught in undertow, it can take anybody down,” said charter fisherman Daniel Andrews.

Andrews suggests avoiding swimming in areas that have narrow straits like Redfish Pass, Captiva Pass, and Boca Grande Pass.

“All those areas where the Gulf meets the bay, you’ll have stronger currents,” Andrews explained.

If you do go swimming, Andrews suggests sticking to the more common public beaches and using your common sense.

“If you feel like you’re in a river where you’re swimming, probably shouldn’t be swimming there. If it feels like you’re in a pond or a lake, you’re good,” Andrews said.

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