News that local attorney Jim Evans went missing during a dive off the coast of Daytona Beach over the weekend shocked the legal community and those who knew him, fellow attorneys said Sunday.
“I received the message by text message Friday night around 9 am from a mutual friend,” said Don Dempsey, a DeLand attorney who practices criminal and family law. “It’s just bad news that you don’t want to hear or expect.”
The U.S. Coast Guard in Jacksonville said on Twitter and Facebook that it had started a search for Evans after receiving reports that he went missing on a dive 30 miles offshore east of Daytona Beach on Friday.
The Coast Guard announced on Sunday that Evans had not been found despite a three-day search.
The US Coast Guard announced that Evans was wearing a multi-colored camouflaged wetsuit when he disappeared.
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Family and people who knew Jim Evans respond
In a tweet on Saturday, Evans’ daughter Kylie, who carries the Twitter ID @cryingcheeto, also said that her father went diving offshore on Friday and never returned to the boat.
Evans also had a son whom friends identified as Cole.
“He’s a seasoned diver who’s been out this far more times than I can count,” Evans’ daughter said on Twitter. “He knows exactly what to do in this situation. I’m just waiting for good news and praying that he’ll swim somewhere on the coast waiting to be found. ”
Another post on Facebook by Marsha Evans Cooksey, Evans’ ex-wife, thanked all of the boat and drone volunteers for coming to help and look for Evans.
“Thank you again for all of your prayers and help getting Jim home,” wrote Cooksey.
Evans’ daughter Kylie and Cooksey did not immediately respond to messages sent to them on Sunday.
At 10 a.m. on Sunday, the U.S. Coast Guard in Jacksonville said boats, a C-130 plane, and diving teams from the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, Ponce Inlet Coast Guard and Florida Fish and wildlife would have saturated the search area where Evans was reported missing.
According to the US Coast Guard in Jacksonville, the search teams that have been looking for Evans since Friday also included members of the US Customs Border Patrol.
“On Sunday at 10 a.m. they (search teams) conducted 62 hours in search patterns and covered more than 2,350 square nautical miles,” read the latest Twitter message.
When news spread on social media that Evans was missing, a group of local boaters and tournament fishermen mobilized to join the search for Evans, said Chris Blum of New Smyrna Beach and a good friend of the missing attorney.
At least 14 boats were scattered across the area where Evans disappeared on Sunday. The boats had communicated by radio when they searched their assigned areas, said Blum.
Blum said Tracy Grubbs of Spruce Creek Scuba, who trained Evans, dived where Evans was last seen.
“He wasn’t on the bottom of the sea,” said Blum.
Boats searched until they ran out of fuel and they had to return to shore, said Blum.
“We did a lot today, but no Jim,” said Blum, and burst into tears.
In a Facebook post, Tom Hammond described Evans as “a great local attorney who has selflessly helped countless people.”
“All around great guy, dad and more,” said Hammond.
According to information on Jim Evans’ website, he is a graduate of Stetson University College of Law in 1994.
Evans is a litigator and, according to his online intelligence, practices criminal law, personal injury law, family law, and foreclosure law.
Dempsey, who has known Evans for at least 20 years, said he had worked on cases with Evans and described him as a good guy and a good father who always talked about his kids.
“He’s a good lawyer,” said Dempsey. “He has a great personality, easy to deal with, always professional.”
David Shekhter, worked with Evans and said Evans was his mentor and helped him build his law firm. The news that Evans is missing came as a shock to him, he said.
Evans was the senior lawyer Shekhter had met, and a father who loved his children said Shekhter.
Evans is a great poker player and game host, Shekhter said.
“It’s just a big loss to the legal community, especially since we just lost Judge Steven Henderson,” Shekhter said. “It’s very sad.”
Henderson recently died of COVID-19.
Another attorney, Aaron Delgado, who is also a diver, said he practiced jiu-jitsu with Evans for several years at the same gym. He said the news from Evans gives him hope for the best and his heart goes out to Evans’ family.
“It’s just tragic to get this news,” said Delgado. “Jim was highly regarded. He was a laid-back lawyer with a great sense of humor.”