Coast Guard Suspends Search for 11 Victims of Capsizing

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Coast Guard rescue crews suspended their search at 12:45 p.m. Friday for 11 of 17 migrants who went missing in Mona Passage waters after their yola capsized in waters northeast of Cabo Engaño, Dominican Republic Monday.

Three men and one woman were rescued Wednesday and two others were found deceased.

Since the search began Wednesday, Coast Guard rescue crews from Air Station Borinquen HH-65 Dolphin helicopters, an Air Station Miami HU-25 Falcon Jet, an Air Station Clearwater HC-130 Hercules aircraft and Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo conducted 20 searches spanning out approximately 4,746 square nautical miles within the search area.

The crew of an Air Station Borinquen, Puerto Rico HH-65 Dolphin helicopter located a survivor at approximately 1:51 p.m. Wednesday. The helicopter crew transported and transferred the survivor to Emergency Medical Services personnel in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic at approximately 2:20 p.m. Wednesday. The crew of another Air Station Borinquen HH-65 Dolphin helicopter also found two bodies that were recovered from the water by the crew of Dominican Republic navy vessel La Primavera.

The incident was initially reported to the Dominican Republic navy authorities after crewmembers of La Chalupa, a Good Samaritan 28-foot Sportsfisher charter boat, rescued two men and one woman from the water Wednesday morning. The migrants were staying afloat by holding onto five-gallon water jugs, approximately seven nautical miles north northeast of Cabo Engaño, Dominican Republic when rescued.

Coast Guard Sector San Juan Joint Rescue Sub Center controllers received a request for assistance from Dominican Republic navy authorities Wednesday morning to assist with the search efforts to find survivors from the capsized yola. During the search for survivors, Coast Guard rescue crews worked in close coordination with Dominican Republic navy authorities on scene.

“This case is a real tragedy, four out of 17 people are very fortunate to be alive today,” said Cmdr. Ricardo Rodriguez, Sector San Juan Deputy Commander. “Our controllers and rescue crews take pride in saving lives that is our profession. Sadly, we will continue to see tragedies such as this one as long as people continue to risk their lives by trusting migrant smugglers and challenging Mona Passage waters by traveling illegally to Puerto Rico aboard poorly built and grossly overloaded yolas.

Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo is a 110-foot patrol boat homeported in San Juan.

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