Coast Guard suspends search for missing Ocala boater

Petty Officer 3rd Class Arseniy Kushnir, an HC-130 Hercueles air crew member from Air Station Clearwater, Florida, searches the Gulf of Mexico for a missing 47-year-old man Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. Mitchell Szegi, from Ocala, was reported missing after failing to return from a fishing trip. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Petty Officer 3rd Class Arseniy Kushnir, an HC-130 Hercueles air crew member from Air Station Clearwater, Florida, searches the Gulf of Mexico for a missing 47-year-old man Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Coast Guard suspended the search Thursday for an Ocala boater reported missing off Horseshoe Beach.

Mitchell Szegi, 47, departed in a 22-foot fishing boat at noon Sunday from Horseshoe Beach and was scheduled to return Sunday night.

The Coast Guard conducted more than 34 searches, covering more than 10,060 square miles, totaling 121.5 hours in search of Szegi.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Mr. Szegi,” said Cmdr. Randall Brown, acting Sector St. Petersburg commander. “Suspending a search is the most difficult decision to make and despite our best efforts we were unable to reunite Mitchell with his family.”

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg received the overdue report and started the search at about 3:45 p.m. Monday.  A crew member aboard an HC-130 Hercules airplane from Air Station Clearwater spotted a boat at 8:52 a.m. Tuesday matching the description of Szegi’s approximately 40 miles south of Carrabelle. A good Samaritan in the area contacted watchstanders and volunteered to investigate the boat. The good Samaritan reported the boat was clutched in gear, but disabled and adrift with no one aboard. Watch standers confirmed the boat belongs to Szegi.

Multiple crews aided in the search including:

  • An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater
  • Boat crews from Coast Guard Station Yankeetown
  • An HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from Air Station Clearwater
  • Coast Guard Cutter Hawk, homeported in St. Petersburg
  • Coast Guard Cutter Stingray, homeported in Mobile, Alabama
  • Search and rescue crews from the U.S. Air Force, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Dixie County Sheriff’s Office

For the initial story, please click here.

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