Jacksonville man drowns at Ponte Vedra beach


A Jacksonville man drowned at the beach at Guana River State Park Sunday.

Robert O. Hickson, 29, was on the beach with family members at 5:45 p.m. Sunday when another family member swimming in the ocean appeared to be in distress. According to witnesses, Hickson went into the water to assist the family member but went under and disappeared.

An extensive water and shore search was undertaken by the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, St. Johns County Fire/Rescue personnel, F.W.C., the U.S. Coast Guard and a helicopter from Lifeflight. The search later became a recovery operation, however, when the sheriff’s office Beach Patrol Unit located Hickson’s body Monday morning in the surf approximately one-quarter mile south of where he last had been seen. The district medical examiner conducted an autopsy and the sheriff’s office Major Crimes Unit continues to investigate.