Coast Guard Suspends Searches off Georgia Coast

 CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Coast Guard suspended its search at 2:36 a.m. for a possible fishing vessel in distress approximately six-miles east of Jekyll Island, Ga., after contacting the vessel’s owner.

Coast Guard officials made contact with Jack Evans of Darien, Ga., the last known owner of the Turmoil, early this morning. According to Evans, the vessel sank three years ago as he was attempting to tow the vessel out of Brunswick, Ga. Debris that was apparently from the Turmoil was found on Cumberland Island, Ga., launching an extensive Coast Guard search for the vessel and its owner.

The research vessel Lady Lisa contacted the Coast Guard yesterday at about 11 a.m. to report they had spotted debris from a vessel off Jekyll Island. Coast Guard rescue coordinators from Sector Charleston launched a rescue helicopter from Air Station Savannah, Ga., and a rescue boat from Station Brunswick to investigate.

The helicopter and boat crews confirmed the sighting of debris and determined that the debris field stretched from the mouth of the St. Mary’s River, Ga., to Sea Island, Ga. – approximately 30-miles long. The Coast Guard helicopter crew located a stern portion of a vessel labeled with the name Turmoil and Brunswick as the homeport.

Rescue coordinators tried to identify the owner as the search progressed, but the last time the vessel was registered was in 2005 to Harry Jones of Brunswick. Jones told Coast Guard rescue coordinators he sold Turmoil to Jack Evans in 2005.

Rescue coordinators were able to locate Evans. After speaking with Evans and receiving no reports of overdue vessels or missing persons, rescue coordinators made the decision to suspend the case.

At 9:39 p.m. Sunday, David Bactenfield aboard the sailing vessel Adventure called the Coast Guard to say he heard someone hail mayday over VHF channel 16 on his marine radio. None of the Coast Guard rescue coordination centers or stations heard the distress call. A helicopter crew from Air Station Savannah searched the area that night and found no signs of distress. Rescue coordinators do not believe the call is related to the debris field found off Southern Georgia.

Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Savannah is investigating this incident to try and determine the origin of the debris.

Coast Guard rescue crews from Station Brunswick, Air Station Savannah, Air Station Clearwater, Fla., and the Coast Guard Cutter Yellowfin from Charleston searched a combined 28 hours for this case.

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