I'm wondering about the seemingly obvious lack of a GPS and/or compass in this tragedy, among other things.
The guide started searching at 9 pm, which is pitch black here in FL. With no land in sight to reference, he became lost. Had he had at least a compass on board, he'd only have to head east to run into the coast. With a GPS it would have been even easier to make his way back to the rafted group or land. It seems obvious that neither was aboard. And all this while while advertising the use of "state-of-the-art outdoor gear" on the guide's web site?
Also, whenever we go out in groups, there is a leader in front, and a clean-up person trailing to keep an eye on stragglers. How did these kids get away from the group? Was the guide the only person keeping on eye on the entire group?
As Shallow-Minded stated, this front had been forecast a few days prior. Anyone checking would have been aware of the predicted high winds and rain. I'm well inland, NW of Orlando. On Saturday, it was very windy. It hasn't been that windy and gusty since the hurricanes blew through.
While my heart goes out to the guide, and I'm sure he must be devastated, this just seems like an accident that could have been prevented with a little contingency planning.
For anyone who's interested, here's a map of the area. Coon Island is at the top. From the coast to the left side of the image is about 5 miles: