Coast Guard suspends search for missing cruise ship passenger

17th Coast Guard District NewsANCHORAGE, Alaska – The Coast Guard suspended the search Saturday at 3:45 p.m. for a missing passenger from the Holland America cruise ship Oosterdam.

The Coast Guard’s combined search effort included three Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew searches, and on the water searches by the crews of the Coast Guard Cutter Naushon and a Small Boat Station Ketchikan 47-foot Motor Life Boat. The searches covered more than 352 miles.

“Suspending a case is one of the hardest decisions that we as search and rescuers have to make and our thoughts and prayers are with the family,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Lindsey Kirby, Coast Guard Sector Juneau Operations unit controller. “While we have suspended active searching, we encourage anyone who sees anything while transiting though the area to call the Coast Guard.”

Coast Guard Sector Juneau Command Center received notification Friday at 4 p.m. from the cruise line reporting that Blake Kepley, a 20-year-old Fallbrook, Calif. resident, was missing and had possibly gone overboard early Friday morning while the vessel was transiting from Sitka to Ketchikan.

The man was reported missing by family members when he did not arrive to exit from the cruise ship in Ketchikan as scheduled.

Weather in the search area was reported as clear with winds less than10 mph, and calm seas.

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