Update: Divers Back in Fort Pond on ‘Recovery Operation’ for Missing Man

A Suffolk County Sheriff’s marine unit arrived Monday morning. The boat has sonar detection on board. Independent/T.E. McMorrow

Update, July 21, 1:30 a.m.: The body of Jeffrey B. Gantt was recovered Monday evening. For more on this story, click here.

Update, July 20, 4:45 p.m.:  The search is still underway in Fort Pond for the swimmer who was presumed to have drowned Sunday night.

East Hampton Town police said in a statement Monday afternoon that the missing man is a 42-year-old Manhattan resident.

In addition to the marine units and divers being used, Suffolk County aviation is also assisting in the search on Monday.

Update, July 20, 8:15  a.m.: Dive teams have resumed their search Monday morning for a man who went missing in Fort Pond in Montauk Sunday evening. East Hampton Town Police Chief Michael Sarlo called it a recovery operation.

Chief Sarlo explained that police received a call about a swimmer in distress at 7:54 p.m. Responding units determined that four people in a row boat had entered the water to retrieve an oar. The boat drifted away from them and “one of the four became distressed and disappeared under the water,” he said.

The man, whose name was not released, is described as a Black male in his early 40s, possibly wearing a  yellow bathing suit, Chief Sarlo said. The man is a New York City resident.

East Hampton Town lifeguards brought back Jet Skis to Fort Pond on Monday morning. Independent/T.E. McMorrow

The Police Department’s dive team, made-up of highly trained officers, as well as the Montauk, East Hampton, and Sag Harbor Fire Department’s dive teams and the East Hampton Ocean Rescue squad all responded to search for the swimmer, in a race against nightfall. Sunset in Montauk was at 8:16 p.m.

Chief Sarlo confirmed that Suffolk County police aviation and U.S. Coast Guard aviation units were both requested, but could not respond due to weather conditions elsewhere.

“After hours of searching for the missing swimmer, all rescue efforts were suspended,” Chief Sarlo said. By 10:30 p.m., the water was cleared of divers, Jet Skis, paddle boards, and kayak that had been utilized to look for the man.

The East Hampton Town Dive Team, with the assistance of the department’s Marine Patrol division, are back in Fort Pond this morning to begin the recovery operation, the chief said.

Detectives are investigating.

Originally, July 19, 10:30 p.m.: A man went missing in Fort Pond Sunday evening, just as the sun was going down in Montauk. After a two-hour search, police and fire departments called off the search, at least for the night.

Just before 8 p.m., East Hampton Town police and its Marine Patrol unit, as well as the East Hampton Ocean Rescue Squad were called to respond for kayakers in distress — though later there were reports it was a swimmer and that the alleged victim had been on a row boat. There were reportedly several witnesses who saw a man in his 40s go under the water and not come up.

Fort Pond is a large freshwater lake between downtown Montauk to Second House Road, which separates it from Fort Pond Bay on the north side of Montauk. Several hotels and restaurants surround the lake, including the Surf Lodge. It was not clear exactly where the man went missing in the lake.

Dive teams from East Hampton and Sag Harbor Fire Departments, as well as the East Hampton Town Police Department’s team, conducted an underwater search. Ocean rescue squad members searched by Jet Skis and paddle boards.

The Montauk Fire Department, which launched its Zodiac in the pond, also set up its tower ladder and lights were set up at command posts around the pond.

Helicopters were requested to search by air, but Suffolk County Police Department’s aviation units were not flying due to weather, and a helicopter from Coast Guard Station Cape Cod was also not available.

Police did not immediately release information.

By 10:15 p.m., police cleared Fort Pond of all those searching. There was no word of when the search would resume.

This article will be updated when more information is available.

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