Those who knew passionate angler Jesus Ortega say they were shocked to hear the New Yorker drowned after jumping overboard his small open boat to escape a potential collision with a larger vessel.
"He was an amazing swimmer -- he was in the military," family member Frances Batista told WABC News. "This is not making sense."
Ortega, 46, and his fishing buddy were in the boat together, and at about 10:18 p.m. Friday. About an hour later that police say Ortega and his friend jumped into the pitch black waters, apparently trying to escape a large vessel that was headed at them.
Police say the second vessel did not strike their boat.
"There's a lot of dangerous people out there. It happened to me plenty of times," Ortega's good friend, Luis Ortiz Ortiz, said. "I'm fishing, and next thing you know, I have a rogue wave coming over and I almost went over quite a few times last year."