Coast Guard, others search for man near Norfolk, Va.

Coast Guard Cutter Mako file photo photo by AUX David Lau

Coast Guard Cutter Mako file photo photo by AUX David Lau

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The Coast Guard and other agencies are searching Sunday for a man last seen planning to take a raft out on the Chesapeake Bay.

The Norfolk Police Department notified the Coast Guard at about 5 p.m. on Saturday that 49-year-old Wesley Schoonmaker was last seen departing his Norfolk residence wearing a full wetsuit. He had stated that he planned to test out a new oar by paddling his 8-foot yellow and dark blue raft near Willoughby Spit in Norfolk.

Watchstanders in the Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads Command Center in Portsmouth issued an urgent marine information broadcast and began coordinating search efforts following the report.

Crews from Coast Guard Station Portsmouth and Coast Guard Station Little Creek launched 45-foot Response Boats-Medium, and the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Mako diverted to join the search. An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew launched from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina, and joined Virginia Marine Police crews and other agencies in the search throughout Saturday night.

Coast Guard crews continue searching Sunday morning along with state and local agencies.

“We are actively searching for Mr. Schoonmaker from the air and on the water,” said Capt. Richard Wester, commander, Sector Hampton Roads. “Anyone with information that might help find him, please contact the Sector Hampton Roads Command Center at 757-668-5555.”

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