Coast Guard Suspends Search for 2 Missing Men Off Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Coast Guard rescue crews suspended their search at 8 p.m. today for two men originally reported missing Tuesday, while on a recreational ride aboard an overdue personal watercraft in Aguadilla Bay.

Still missing are Pedro Cortez, 23, a resident of Moca and Ivan Blasquez, 29, a resident of Aguada, Puerto Rico.

Coast Guard rescue crews aggressively searched with surface and air assets to find Cortez and Blasquez. Since Tuesday, Coast Guard rescue crews have been searching to find the missing men with HH-65 Dolphin helicopters from Air Station Borinquen, an HU-25 Falcon Jet from Air Station Miami, Fla., an HC-130 aircraft from Air Station Clearwater, Fla. and the Coast Guard Cutter Chincoteague. Coast Guard rescue crews conducted a total 27 searches spanning over 6,485 nautical square miles to find the missing men.

A Good Samaritan aboard sailing vessel Sea Knot located at 3 p.m. Tuesday an overturned personal watercraft believed to belong to Cortez and Blasquez, approximately 14 nautical miles north of Jobos, Puerto Rico.

Cortez and Blasquez reportedly departed Aguadilla Bay on a recreational ride at approximately 2 p.m. Monday and planned to remain in the bay for a few hours but did not return. They were riding a white and burgundy personal watercraft and were reported being equipped with personal flotation devices and flares.
“This is a real tragedy, our thoughts and prayers go out to the loved ones of Mr. Cortez and Mr. Blasquez,” said Lt. Cmdr. Robert Warren, Sector San Juan command center supervisor. “This tragedy highlights the value of remaining with your vessel, even if it is broken down and adrift. It is much easier for rescue crews to find a seven to 10-foot personal watercraft, even if floating away from shore, than finding swimmers in the water.”

Coast Guard Cutter Chincoteague is a 110-foot patrol boat homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Personal watercraft operators are considered boaters too. Here are a few safety tips to remember before you head out on a personal watercraft:

  1. Stay with your boat or personal watercraft if your vessel capsizes and you can’t make it to shore. Look around for help if a boat is close enough and wave your arms to let them know you need help. Keep calm, look and listen and remember to stay with your boat.
  2. You are in command of your own safety. Boating safety is about more than just equipment. It’s about behavior and responsibility; know the restricted areas.
  3. Don’t drink and boat. Be responsible with drinks on board, make sure you designate a “sober skipper” before things get out of hand.
  4. Wear protective clothing. Severe internal injuries can occur if water is forced into body cavities as a result of falling into the water or being near a jet thrust nozzle.
  5. Ride within your limits and avoid aggressive maneuvers. This reduces the risk of loss of control, ejection and collision
  6. Carry and check your safety gear to be sure it works. Always file a float plan with a friend or a marina, remember to wear your lifejackets, make sure you have flares and a working VHF-FM marine radio on board.
  7. Avoid groundings and know where you are going. Have navigational charts on board and learn to read them before you head out on the water.
  8. Be responsible with your trash. Garbage hurts our marine life and environment; it can also result in costly repairs to your boat and engine.

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