A witness called 911 to report what appeared to be a man in distress in the water around 12:47 p.m., according to a written statement issued by Gulfport Police. The witness said he had tried to pull the man into his dinghy but failed and instead gave him a personal flotation device.
When members of the police marine unit arrived on the scene at 12:53 p.m., they pulled the man out of the water and began chest compressions. The victim was wearing an orange flotation device and white underwear. He was transported to Palms of Pasadena Hospital, but never regained consciousness.
Police found the man’s clothing on the dock behind the Gulfport Casino, including a Florida identification card with his picture. Following notification of his next of kin, the victim was identified as David Cook.
“The preliminary investigation indicates this was an accidental drowning that likely involved alcohol,” the police statement said.
Cook is the second transient to have drowned in Boca Ciega Bay off Gulfport in less than a year. Last October, David Scheffler, 35, left a transient boat in a canoe in the dark and was found dead the next day in the water, according to Police Sgt. Thomas Woodman. Alcohol was also involved in that incident, Woodman said.