SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Coast Guard rescue crews ended their search Monday afternoon for a missing U.S. Virgin Islands boater after he was found alive by local citizens in Culebra Island, Puerto Rico.
Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector San Juan were contacted by a restaurant owner in Culebra Island, who reported that Alejandro Lopez, 24, had been brought into the restaurant after he was found to be wandering around and disoriented in the area. Coast Guard watchstanders received a photo of Lopez at the restaurant, while local Police at the scene also confirmed the man to be Lopez.
“This case highlights the importance for boaters to file a float plan or let someone they trust know where they are headed and when they are expected to return from their boating trip,” said Lt. Cmdr. Catherine Phillips, Sector San Juan Command Center supervisor. “This is time sensitive information that helps save lives, especially when searching for vessels and boaters who are missing, overdue or in distress.”
Coast Guard watchstanders were initially contacted by Lopez’s father Saturday afternoon, who reported he had not seen or heard of his son since Thursday when he left the residence.
Before being found, Lopez was seen Thursday aboard a dinghy in Hull Bay, St. Thomas and had last been seen by another boater off Culebrita Island, Puerto Rico Friday, who reported he had spoken and provided gasoline to Lopez.
Coast Guard watchstanders and rescue crews searched waters from the U.S. Virgin Islands to Fajardo, Puerto Rico to find Lopez and coordinated with local and federal authorities from both U.S. territories assisting in the search.
Coast Guard and Civil Air Patrol assets that participated in the search:
- MH65D Dolphin helicopters from Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen
- Coast Guard Cutter Winslow Griesser
- Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry maritime patrol aircraft
- Coast Guard Auxiliary fixed-wing aircraft
- Civil Air Patrol fixed-wing aircraft.