Coast Guard suspends search for missing boater

ESTERO BEACH Fla.– The Coast Guard suspended its search pending further developments at about 1 p.m. Friday, for a Bonita Springs, Fla., man who went missing approximately one-half mile off the coast of Estero Beach.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Station Fort Myers Beach, Fla., received a distress report relayed by 911 emergency dispatch that indicated Paul Taefi and Mike Woldika were in the water and in distress near Estero Beach at about 7:45 p.m., Thursday.

Woldika reportidly fell from the 24-foot vessel and the Taefi entered the water to assist him.  Woldikawas found clinging to a swim buoy and was rescued by coastal residents on the beach.  He was treated by local EMS and hospitalized.  Public safety agencies responded immediately to search for Taefi and an exhaustive multi-agency search was undertaken Thursday night and Friday.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the friends and family of Mr. Taefi,” said Cmdr. Peter Martin, acting commander of Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg.  “This case is a grim reminder of why boaters should always wear a lifejacket and have the proper safety and signaling equipment when they go out on the water.”

Searching were:

  • Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Fla., MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter rescue crews
  • Coast Guard Station Fort Myers Beach 33-foot Special Purpose Law Enforcement Craft crews
  • Coast Guard Air Station Miami MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crews
  • Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC) crews
  • Lee County Sheriff’s Department Helicopter crews
  • Lee County Fire and Rescue boat crews
  • Sanibel Island Fire and Rescue crews
  • Fort Myers Beach Police Department officers

FWCC is investigating the incident.

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