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Search called off for missing swimmer near Clearwater Beach

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Clearwater Fire and Police divers get ready to resume search for swimmer Clearwater Fire and Police divers get ready to resume search for swimmer

The search for a man missing since the middle of Monday afternoon off Sand Key has been called off.  

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office helicopter conducted an aerial search while Clearwater Fire & Rescue divers worked the water searching for 27-year-old James Poindexter Tuesday.

Divers were on scene for six hours, but the current in the area became so bad Tuesday afternoon, it was ripping the masks off of the divers. T

James Poindexter of Port Richey, disappeared while walking with his family in shallow water on Monday afternoon.

Officials say the family was near the Clearwater Sailing Center on Sand Key, on the south side of the Sand Key Bridge.

Poindexter is a father of four and volunteers at the Boys and Girls club in Spring Hill, according to his mother-in-law.  She said he was not a good swimmer.

Related story: 09/02/2013 Man missing after walk with friends in water

Concerned family members watched with nervous anticipation as Clearwater Fire Department dive team members scanned under the water for any signs of Poindexter. 

At the same time, boats from several jurisdictions looked above the water.

They also used "side scan" radar to search the area. Poindexter's family says they saw the victim struggling and heard him call for help. The family may have picked this beach because of crowds jamming the area near Pier 60, said a city spokeswoman.

There are some strong currents near this area, which could be a factor, and there are also some drop-offs near shore.

A Clearwater Fire Captain says the water level suddenly drops about five to 10 feet once you get about 30 yards from the shore. 

He says there are uneven parts of the surface and it's possible the victim got suddenly swept into the deeper area.

There are no lifeguards at the beach. They are stationed along the public beach sections of Clearwater Beach along the Gulf.

Early on, the effort was called a "search and rescue" effort, but authorities said Monday night it looked more like a recovery effort.

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