ST. PETE BEACH, FL — Friends and family are planning a tribute to a popular 28-year-old St. Pete Beach resident who is being remembered following a fatal boating accident in Boca Ciega Bay over the weekend.
Jackson Philip Christman’s family reported him missing to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office at 9:53 p.m. Saturday after he failed to show up at an event he was expected to attend.
According to detectives, Christman took his 13-foot-Carolina skiff out on Friday, and his family and friends became concerned when they hadn’t heard from him.
The sheriff’s marine and helicopter units began searching the area.
Christman’s body was discovered on Sunday at 6 a.m. about 30 feet from the shore and about 50 feet from his boat in Boca Ciega Bay.
According to friends, Christman, a 2010 graduate of Lakewood High School, was an experienced boater and sailor who had his personal captain’s license and often worked as a mate on charter boat trips and tours.
Through their investigation, detectives said they were able to determine that Christman struck a pylon in the water and was thrown from the boat, likely striking his head on the pylon.
Detectives said the kill switch to the boat was not connected to Christman, and the boat remained in gear at the shoreline until it ran out of gas.
“We lost a true legend this weekend,” friend Austin Piazza said. “Jackson Christman was a great man, a great friend, and will forever have a place in the heart of our community.”
Friends said his positive attitude were like a magnet that attracted people to him.
“This one hits close and is a very tough pill to swallow,” said friend Capt. Dalton Dunham, a private yacht captain and lead captain for Island Ferry Eco-Tours. Dunham was on his way to join the search for Christman when his body was discovered. “He was a dear friend, someone who always made you smile even on the worst of days. He had a very unique, light and happy spirit.”
Dunham said Christman could pilot just about any vessel — speedboats, parasail boats, 100-plus passenger vessels and sailboats.
“Jackson was one of the most talented people I’ve ever met when it comes to being on the water and that’s including a lot of the captains I know,” Dunham said. “We did the junior sailing program together at the BCYC (Boca Ciega Yacht Club) then reunited working together as captain and mate at StarLite Cruises on the Dolphin Racer and Starlite Sapphire together. He even worked a few trips offshore commercial long lining. His experience on the water was not often matched.”
Piazza is organizing the celebration of life in Christman’s memory on Thursday, Aug. 25, from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Toasted Monkey, 678 75th Ave., St Pete Beach.
There will by live music by Christman’s friend, musician Doug South, and those who knew Christman are invited to share photos and videos of him for the celebration by clicking here.
Friends are also encouraged to share remembrances of Christman at the celebration or by posting their stories on Piazza’s Facebook page.
“It’s rare to meet people that have such a great impact on the lives of everyone they meet,” Piazza said. “I’m sure this post and others will fill up with countless stories by the people whose lives he has touched.”