Coast Guard Suspends Search for Florida Fisherman

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Coast Guard announced in a press briefing this afternoon that it has suspended the search for a fisherman that was reported missing off the coast of St. Augustine, Fla., Thursday at 9 p.m.

Steve Senecal, 34, of St. Augustine was reported missing Thursday evening after he didn’t return from a recreational fishing trip. The Coast Guard launched an extensive search for Senecal eventually finding his boat with no one aboard 27-miles northeast of St. Augustine. The Coast Guard officially suspended their search for Senecal at 1 p.m. after a more than 39-hour search.

“The decision to suspend a search with out any resolution is the most difficult a Coast Guardsman has to make. It’s a painful end for all the rescue crews and rescue coordinators that tried so hard to find Mr. Senecal,” said Coast Guard Capt. Paul Thomas, the commanding officer of Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville and the lead rescue coordinator for the search. “I hope Mr. Senecal’s family and friends know that we did everything in our power to find their loved one, and the thoughts and prayers of every Coast Guard person involved in this search go out to them during this difficult time.”

Coast Guard, Navy and Air Force crews from across the Southeastern United States assisted in the search. It included Coast Guard aircrews from Air Station Savannah, Ga., and Air Station Clearwater, Fla.; Navy aircrews from Naval Air Station Jacksonville and Naval Station Mayport, Fla., Air Force aircrews from the 920th Rescue Wing at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla.; Coast Guard boat crews from Station Mayport; and the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Kingfisher from Mayport.

Rescue crews conducted 24 separate search sorties covering more than 4,300-square miles searching for Senecal. Coast Guard, Navy and Air Force rescue crews searched for a combined 112 hours.

Thomas has been in close contact with Senecal’s family and kept them up to date on every aspect of the search since he was reported missing. The family is aware of Coast Guard rescue coordinators’ decision to suspend the search.

When Coast Guard rescue coordinators suspend a search, it means no rescue crews will be actively searching. Rescue coordinators suspend a search pending further developments and can resume the search if they receive information that would lead them to believe they should continue.

The Coast Guard will only suspend a search after they have exhausted all possibilities that they will find someone alive and after they have thoroughly and extensively searched the area where the person was missing.

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