Buffalo native drowns trying to save dog

TAMPA, F.L. (WIVB) – Friends and family are remembering a man from Buffalo who drowned while boating on a lake near Tampa, Florida. The man was able to save his dog, but not himself. Friends here and in Florida are remembering 70-year-old John Patti.

Patti’s friend said, “He loved golfing. He loved people. He had a lot of good friends.”

Patti also loved his three-year-old dog named Rascal. You can see the yorkie highlighted in the included video.

Patti’s neighbor Roy Carlson said, “He usually takes his dog with him  boating, usually on a leash. Not sure how he got off the leash. Tricky dog.”

Patti and three others were boating Saturday morning, when Rascal jumped into the muddy and murky water of Lake Tarpon, near Tampa.

Pinellas Sheriff’s Office’s Cristen Rensel said, “Mr. Patti jumped in the water after the dog he saved the dog he went underwater. The people on the boat couldn’t find him he disappeared.”

Crews brought in special sonar equipment, helicopters and boats, to look for the Buffalo native.

“The water here is very murky; it’s very dark; there’s a lot of debris underneath, which doesn’t make it safe for our divers; and it’s very hard to see,” said Rensel.

Sixteen hours later, authorities found his body in a creek along the lake.

Rensel said, “Our deputies say that this appears to be an accident.”

Records show Patti had lived in the Tampa area for the past 10 years. Friends say they will remember him as someone who lived his life, with a sense of service.

“John was just a great guy. He was always willing to help anybody out any way he could, and he was just a real good friend, and we’re gonna sure miss him,” said Carlson.

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