Wildlife Officer Joel Lathem "Sonny" Harper

Wildlife Officer Joel Lathem "Sonny" Harper

Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, Florida

End of Watch Sunday, August 12, 1962

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Joel Lathem "Sonny" Harper

Wildlife Officer Sonny Harper drowned after falling from his boat near the dam in Lake Miccosukee.

He was approximately 40 feet from the Jefferson County shore when his motor stopped when some grass became stuck in the prop. He was leaning over the boat in an attempt to remove the grass when he fell overboard. The boat started to drift away and he attempted to swim to shore but he became distressed and went under.

Several boaters who witnessed the incident attempted to rescue him but were unable to locate him. His body was recovered in 8-12 feet of water approximately two hours later.

Officer Harper was a U.S. Army veteran and Purple Heart recipient of the Korean War. He had served with the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission for 10 months. He was survived by his wife, daughter, parents, and sister.


  • Age 30
  • Tour 10 months
  • Badge Not available
  • Military Veteran

Incident Details

  • Cause Drowned

marine patrol

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“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."
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Federal Air Marshal Service (Retired)

March 20, 2023

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