Coast Guard suspends searches off Kemah, Galveston

Hovering in a Coast Guard MH-65C Dolphin rescue helicopter

HOUSTON — Coast Guard boat and helicopter crews suspended searches Sunday, after exhausting search efforts for a 29-year-old man 3 miles off Kemah and a 23-year-old man near the Pleasure Pier in Galveston.

“Wear a lifejacket, even if you are a strong swimmer. You never know what is going to happen,” said Lt.j.g. Melissa McCafferty, one of the Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston search and rescue coordinators during the searches. “Have a buddy watch you constantly and be aware of the dangers.”

The sector watchstanders coordinated the search for the 29-year-old man Saturday as the sailboat he was on reported they lost sight of the man at about 3:20 p.m., shortly after he jumped in Galveston Bay for a swim.

The Coast Guard, with the help of the Kemah Fire Department, the Coast Guard Auxiliary, Seabrook Fire Department, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Chambers County, Nassau Bay, EquuSearch and good Samaritans searched by boat and helicopter Saturday and Sunday, but have not been able to find the man.

“There were six organizations that helped out,” said McCafferty. “Having more people allows us to search more land and water area and concentrate our search efforts to yield better results. Regrettably, despite the overwhelming support and assistance, we have been unable to locate the man.”

The search for the 23-year-old man began after a lifeguard noticed the man in distress in the water near 24th and Seawall in Galveston around 7:45 p.m. Saturday. It was reported the lifeguard swam out to assist the man, but lost sight of him as he neared. The Galveston Island Beach Patrol searched with jet skis and a Coast Guard Air Station Houston helicopter crew searched by air Saturday and Sunday morning.

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