A U.S. Air Force airman was found dead off the coast of Florida on Saturday morning.
The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) issued an Aqua Alert on Facebook on Friday for a “distressed swimmer” in the Gulf of Mexico, last seen at 4:30 p.m., one mile south of East Pass in Destin. The swimmer, identified as Nicholas Brown, was said to be wearing a black wetsuit and a yellow snorkel.
The OCSO later confirmed in an update on Saturday morning that Brown had been found dead. “Tragically the missing diver has been located deceased. Please join us in sending our sincere sympathies and prayers to his family and friends,” the update read.
The OCSO told McClatchy News that Brown’s body was “located in about 80 feet of water, about 50 feet from where he was last seen.”
According to a GoFundMe campaign created in his memory, Brown — whose nickname was “Smog” — was free-diving when he disappeared. Free-diving does not utilize underwater breathing apparatus such as scuba gear, instead relying on breath-holding for long periods.
A message on the GoFundMe page described Brown as a “loving husband and super dad” of two young children. “Smog will be terribly missed by all who knew him. This GoFundMe is established to help care for his family left behind,” it said. “All proceeds will go directly to the Brown family.”
In a press release issued on Sunday, the 33rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs office stated that Brown, 34, served as an instructor pilot for the 58th Fighter Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. He was originally from Austin, Texas.
U.S. Air Force Col. Dave Skalicky, commander of the 33rd Fighter Wing, to which Brown was assigned, said in a statement that the unit was grieving the loss of a “valued teammate.”
“Our deepest sympathies and condolences go out to Capt. Brown’s family, friends, fellow Nomads, and all those affected by this tragic loss,” he said. “Our focus right now is ensuring we care for those closest to him and provide all the support and resources we can to our Nomads and families during this difficult time.”
According to the release, the details surrounding Brown’s death are currently under investigation.