(WBIR) A Knoxville businessman, who friends described as a father figure for his staff, died Saturday after he was found floating in the ocean in Cocoa Beach, Florida.

According to the Cocoa Beach Police Department, Michael Markwell, 51, died at the hospital after being pulled from the ocean Saturday morning.

Markwell has been the managing partner for eight years at the Knoxville location of Carrabba's Italian Grill, according to Rob Roder, his business partner.

Roder said Markwell was on a month paid sabbatical for April and was vacationing this weekend in Cocoa Beach with his wife. He also stopped by a corporate Carrabba's convention while in Florida. The two were scheduled to fly back to Knoxville on Sunday.

He said Michael helped a lot of kids in need and acted as a father figure to his staff of 40-50 young people.

Cocoa Beach said officers responded to the beach around 10:30 a.m. Saturday after reports of an unconscious swimmer floating in the surf.

Police and fire rescue personnel performed CPR on Markwell and transported him to Cape Canaveral hospital where he passed away.

Authorities said his cause of death is under investigation, but at this time there is no signs of foul play.

Read or Share this story: http://on.wbir.com/1lpXw76