Coast Guard searching for 2 missing people along Galveston, Freeport coasts

Hovering in a Coast Guard MH-65C Dolphin rescue helicopter

USCG file photo

HOUSTON — The Coast Guard is searching for a missing man off Freeport in addition to a missing girl they were already searching for in Galveston.

The girl is 12 years old and was last seen wearing a pink swimsuit and black shorts. The man is 51 years old last seen wearing a red hat.

At 3:51 p.m. Thursday, watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston received a call from the Galveston Police Department notifying them of the missing girl. Watchstanders launched an Air Station Houston aircrew and a Station Galveston boatcrew to respond. Galveston Island Beach Patrol also responded with two members searching on personal watercraft.

At 6:05 p.m, watchstanders at Coast Guard Station Freeport received a call from a Good Samaritan on Bryant beach, stating that while she was onshore, she observed three fisherman who were wade fishing in the Brazos River get swept away. The Brazos river, recently overwhelmed by flood waters, is flowing into the Gulf of Mexico with 5 knots of current. Of the three fisherman, one was able to swim to safety, one ended up on a sandbar, and the other was swept out to sea. The man on the sandbar was able to recover and swim ashore. The man swept out to sea is still missing.

Watchstanders at Sector Houston-Galveston launched a Station Freeport boatcrew and a helicopter from Air Station Corpus Christi to search for the missing man off Bryant Beach. Air Station Houston and Station Galveston continued to conduct multiple searches for the missing girl. The Coast Guard joined 19 lifeguards and 2 personal watercraft from Galveston Beach Patrol along with multiple personnel assisting from Galveston Police Department and Fire Department in the search.

“Texas is undergoing extreme rates of flooding,” said Lt. Melissa McCafferty, the command duty officer and lead search and rescue controller for the cases. “With increased flooding comes an increased risk of higher velocity rip tides and currents not only in rivers and in bays, but in seemingly insignificant land-based areas as well. These risks are not easily observed by the eye and often catch individuals unaware. When fishing, use judgment. Do not enter rivers with significant currents. When swimming, be aware of your surroundings and do not stray far from land. If you get caught in a rip tide, DO NOT PANIC. Let the current take you where it will. When it ceases, swim parallel to the shore until you are able to head back in. Be smart, use the buddy system, and if you are not a good swimmer, use flotation devices.”

The Coast Guard is advising boaters and beachgoers in the Houston-Galveston area be especially mindful of the weather and high probability of rip currents and to always make safety a priority while having fun with family and friends.

There are several important safety measures boaters can take prior to going out on the water:

  • Get a free vessel safety check conducted by the Coast Guard Auxiliary to ensure your vessel is seaworthy. Auxiliarists will also ensure you have necessary safety equipment.
  • File a float plan with a responsible friend, family member or local harbormaster. A float plan should include your information, the information of your boat, where you intend to go, when you intend to return and other data. If you do not return at the designated time, a search and rescue mission can be initiated for you.
  • Do not mix alcohol use with boating. If you’re planning to drink alcohol, ensure you have a designated boat operator. Operating a boat while intoxicated is not only dangerous, it is illegal.
  • Wear a lifejacket. Personal floatation devices significantly increase your chances of survival if you fall overboard. More than 80 percent of drowning victims were not wearing lifejackets.

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