Venice man reported dead after diving in the Gulf

Incident occurred off Manasota Key Road

A red marker indicates 8500 Manasota Key Road. Image from Google Maps

A 61-year-old Venice man who reportedly had disappeared after diving in the Gulf of Mexico on the morning of July 12 was found dead, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office reported.

The man was identified as James E. Little, a Sheriff’s Office news release said, noting that an investigation is underway.

“Deputies initially responded at approximately 10:22 a.m. to the 8500 block of Manasota Key Road to assist marine units from the Venice Fire Department in locating a missing diver,” the release explained. The preliminary investigation revealed that one boat operator and three divers had gone out into the Gulf, the release added.

After Little vanished, the report said, he was found deceased in the water.

The incident sparked a multi-agency response that involved not only the Venice Fire Department but also the United States Coast Guard, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Sarasota County Emergency Services, the release added.

An official cause of death will be determined and released by the 12thDistrict Medical Examiner’s Office, the release said.

Mid-afternoon on July 12, Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium reported calm surf off Manasota Beach with slight respiratory irritation noted as a result of the persistent red tide in the area. The wind speed — out of the east — was 3.93 mph.