Coast Guard suspends search for 2 people overdue in Norton Sound

Coast Guard Alaska NewsKODIAK, Alaska — The Coast Guard suspended their search for two people who were reported overdue, in a 17-foot skiff in Norton Sound Thursday at 9:50 p.m.

The search, which comprised more than 33 hours of search time and covered an area approximately 2,700 square miles began shortly after sunrise Thursday for the Coast Guard. Alaska State Troopers began their search Tuesday and requested Coast Guard assistance Wednesday evening.

The boater’s skiff was located by an Alaska Wildlife Trooper plane overturned on a beach 35 miles southwest of Unalakleet Thursday afternoon. The Coast Guard Jayhawk helicopter landed on the beach and confirmed that it was the skiff they were searching for.

The Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules airplane and the MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crews continued to search but were unable to locate the missing people. The decision to suspend was based on the length of time the people were missing, the loss of their vessel, the weather and their overall chances of survival.

“Suspending a search for missing people is one of the most difficult decisions we have to make,” said Capt. Gregory Sanial, chief of response, Coast Guard 17th District. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims’ family and friends during this difficult time.”

The names of the two people are not being released, pending next of kin notifications.

The Coast Guard resources involved in this case included two Hercules airplanes from Kodiak and a Jayhawk helicopter from Forward Operating Location Barrow which is part of Arctic Shield 2012, which focuses on operations, outreach and an assessment of the Coast Guard’s capabilities above the Arctic Circle.

The FOL in Barrow consists of two Kodiak-based Jayhawk helicopters with supporting air, ground and communications crews. Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak is more than 900 miles from Barrow and having the FOL in place increases the Coast Guard’s readiness and allows for faster responses to emergencies in the Arctic region.

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