Coast Guard Suspends Search for Missing Scuba Diver

 SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Coast Guard rescue crews suspended their search at noon today for a 36 year-old scuba diver who went missing while on a recreational diving trip Saturday in waters near Desecheo Island, Puerto Rico.

Alfonso Santana Rivera, a resident of Hato Rey, is still missing since separating from his dive partner after surfacing in waters on the northwestern tip of Desecheo Island Saturday. Santana was reportedly wearing a black rash guard, air tanks and a buoyancy compensator at the time he was last seen by his dive partner.

Coast Guard rescue crews spent six days conducting 27 searches spanning out more than 3,415 nautical square miles within waters surrounding Desecheo Island, Puerto Rico.

“Searches such as this are very difficult for us all – for our Coast Guard crewmembers and our FURA partners,” said Capt. James. E. Tunstall, Sector San Juan Commander. “We, as first responders, care deeply about our mission of search and rescue, and most importantly for those we seek to assist. For the family and loved ones of Mr. Santana, our thoughts and prayers are truly with them.”

Santana’s dive partner was rescued Saturday by the crew of the dive boat Orca Too, after he was located by the crew of an Air Station Borinquen HH-65 Dolphin helicopter safely on the rocks off the northwestern coast of Desecheo Island. The Orca Too was vectored in by the crew of the Dolphin helicopter and the vessel’s crew rescued Santana’s dive partner from the rocks at approximately 4:45 p.m. Saturday.

Since Saturday, Coast Guard, Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action F.U.R.A. and Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency rescue crews aggressively searched for Santana with HH-65 Dolphin helicopters from Air Station Borinquen, Coast Guard Cutter’s Matinicus and Sapelo, an HU-25 Falcon Jet from Air Station Miami, Fla., an HC-130 from Air Station Clearwater, Fla. and F.U.R.A. Cobra marine units and divers. A Puerto Rico Air National Guard C-130E aircrew, the crew of the Orca Too and Good Samaritan Vessels also assisted with the search.

Coast Guard Cutter’s Matinicus and Sapelo are 110-foot patrol boats homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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