Coast Guard searching for missing boater 17 miles southwest of Steinhatchee, Fla.

24 Grand IsleST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— The Coast Guard is searching for a missing 54-year-old man in the water 17 miles southwest of Steinhatchee, Florida, Monday.

Missing is Edward Viola, 54, from Steinhatchee.

At 9:46 a.m. watchstanders from Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg received a call from a the Sea Hag Marina in Steinhatchee, reporting a Good Samaritan had located and recovered a woman from the water approximately nine miles southwest of the Steinhatchee River entrance.

Cheryl Sims, 50, from Steinhatchee stated she had been with her boyfriend, Viola, aboard a 15-foot boat, Sunday evening. After dark, Viola entered the water when the boat experienced engine trouble. Sims went into the water to assist but lost contact with her boyfriend and the boat. Viola was last seen clinging to a blue seat cushion.

An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Florida, was launched and at 10:50 a.m. located the boat 17 miles southwest of Steinhatchee.

A 24-foot Special Purpose Craft-Shallow Water boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Yankeetown, Florida, and a HC-130 Hercules from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater have been launched to assist in the search.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is also aiding in the search.

The Coast Guard asks the public to keep a sharp lookout and contact Coast Guard watchstanders at (727) 824-7506 with any information regarding the whereabouts of Viola.

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