Authorities ID man who drowned swimming to Thatch Cay

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ST. THOMAS - Government officials have identified the man who drowned near Thatch Cay on Saturday as 48-year-old Christopher Blodgett.

Planning and Natural Resources spokesman Jamal Nielsen said Blodgett was a resident of Frydenhoj.

His body was recovered near Thatch Cay on Sunday.

According to DPNR officials, Blodgett set off about 4 p.m. Saturday with a friend to swim from Coki Point to Thatch Cay. Blodgett was separated from his friend, another man, who made it to Thatch Cay and spent the night there.

The next day, the friend made it back to St. Thomas and reported Blodgett missing.

Ricardo Castrodad, spokesman for the U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Juan, said the federal agency got the call that a swimmer was reported missing Sunday morning.

The Coast Guard was providing support for the St. Thomas International Regatta on the East End, and diverted a vessel from the regatta to help look for the man.

"Around 11 a.m., we located the body of the other swimmer who had been reported missing," Castrodad said Monday. "We were able to recover the body and transfer the person to DPNR personnel via boat-to-boat transfer."

Seas were very rough during the weekend, the result of a serious winter storm in the northeastern United States. A high surf advisory was in effect during the weekend, a Weather Service warning that is triggered if breaking waves reach 10 feet.

In a separate incident, a tourist drowned Saturday near Dorothea Beach.

The victim was James Handley, 47, of South Ogden, Utah, who was visiting the territory with his fianceƩ.

Witnesses said Handley was overcome by rough seas and high waves, according to police.

- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email

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