Coast Guard continues search for overdue boaters near Bahamas

MIAMI – The Coast Guard continues to search near the Bahamas Friday for two missing boaters who reportedly did not arrive in Bimini, Bahamas, as scheduled.

Richard Alicea and Edwin Pritchard, both Miami residents, left from Haulover Inlet in Miami Saturday en route to Bimini. They were traveling in an 17-foot, center-console style Key Largo pleasure craft. The boat is white with a green-blue stripe.

A family member contacted Coast Guard search-and-rescue coordinators at Sector Miami Sunday stating Alicea and Pritchard had not arrived at their final destination as expected. The Coast Guard immediately began a search-and-rescue operation.

The Coast Guard received photographs Tuesday evening from a commuter aircraft, showing what appeared to be people on one of the Berry Islands in Bahamas.  The photograph, apparently shot Sunday by a passenger on the aircraft, also showed “S.O.S”, or an international distress signal written in the sand on the beach.

The Coast Guard immediately launched multiple aircraft to search the island in the photo and the surrounding area, including having a helicopter with Bahamian officials aboard land on the island to conduct searches by foot.  All searches of the island and surrounding areas have yielded no results.  Port checks of the marinas and ports around the search areas are also being conducted to determine if the missing boaters have checked in.

Currently, the Coast Guard has searched about 46,000 square miles between Haulover Inlet to Cape Canaveral, Fla., outwards to and including the islands of the Bahamas.

Coast Guard units involved with the search are:

  • MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crews from Air Station Miami
  • HC-130 Hercules fixed-wing aircraft crews from Air Station Clearwater, Fla.
  • HU-25 Guardian jet crews from Air Station Miami
  • HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircrews from Air Station Clearwater
  • HC-144 Ocean Sentry fixed-wing aircraft crews from Air Station Mobile, Ala.
  • The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Dolphin
  • The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Chandeleur
  • The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Bluefin
  • The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Diamondback

If anyone has any information regarding the whereabouts of Alicea and Pritchard, they are asked to contact the Coast Guard at 305-415-6800.

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