US Coast Guard suspends search for missing Florida diver: ‘Deeply saddened’

The search for a missing diver in Florida has been suspended after he disappeared while free diving during an exploration trip to a World War II-era shipwreck off the coast Sunday, the U.S. Coast Guard announced. 

The U.S. Coast Guard confirmed in a post on X that the identity of the missing diver is Virgil Price, 39.

Price, a West Palm Beach resident, was free diving in the area of the Halsey shipwreck Sunday, where, upon his last known dive, he failed to resurface, according to the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office. 

Deputies confirmed the area is approximately 13 miles southeast of the Fort Pierce Inlet.

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Authorities said Price was last seen wearing a green wetsuit with an orange stripe on the hood, yellow weights on his weight belt and black carbon fiber fins.

“We are deeply saddened to share that the freediver reported missing in St. Lucie County is our own team member, Virgil Price. This is an incredibly difficult time, as Virgil was family to us and a dear friend to so many,” the Florida Freedivers wrote in a post on Facebook. 

Deputies announced Tuesday a body had been recovered but did not match the description of the missing diver. 

“The U.S. Coast Guard is the lead on this investigation, and they’re working with the medical examiner to determine cause and approximate time of death. The body does not appear to have been in the water for an extended period of time,” the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office wrote. 

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Photos of Virgil Price during dives

The discovery of the body came just hours after the U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search for Price.

“The decision to suspend an active search is never taken lightly. We extend our sincerest condolences to Mr. Price’s family,” LCDR John Beal wrote in post on X.

Beal said the search for Price was suspended Monday evening, pending new information, after a search of over 1,415 miles over 36 hours. 

Christian Daehler, a close friend of Price and former coworker, told Fox News Digital he’s never met anyone more passionate about exploring every inch of the ocean possible than Price is. He also said Price never dove alone and always had other divers with him. 

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Virgil Price with diving equipment on a shore

“I’ve never met anyone who is just happier to be in the water, whether or not there is fish involved, ever in my entire life. I’ve never met anyone who was nicer, more accepting and had as warm and kind of a heart than Virgil,” Daehler said. 

Daehler said news of Price’s disappearance has been devastating and heartbreaking. He added that Price is on Team USA for free divers and was going to compete in multiple competitions across the world. 

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“He’s the best free diver that I know, personally; one of the best free divers, if not the best, in Florida. He’s a name in Florida free diving, not only because of his accolades and achievements he accomplished, but also just because of how he helped out the diving community. He’s taught so many people how to free dive and coached many people,” Daehler said. 

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