Coast Guard units search for missing Mississippi boaters

NEW ORLEANS – The Coast Guard is searching for two missing men, Timothy Ragas, 39 and Joseph Parta, 56, both from Bay St. Louis, Miss.

Coast Guard Sector New Orleans received a report at approximately 1 p.m. today from Ragas’ wife stating that the two men were missing and had not returned yesterday afternoon as expected.

Coast Guard units searching are:

* An HH-65C Dolphin rescue helicopter and crew from Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans
* An HU-25 Falcon jet and crew from Coast Guard Aviation Training Center, Mobile, Ala.
* The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Sturgeon, an 87-foot patrol boat homeported in Grand Isle, La.

The men were operating a 25-foot oyster barge with a white hull and blue canvas cover with Louisiana boat registration number LA 3398 SF stenciled on the cover, and were last seen transiting the Empire Lock near Empire, La.

Ragas and Parta intended to take a route through the Ostrica Lock, past California Point through Black Bay and past Shell Island to arrive in Bay St. Louis.

Anyone with any information are urged to contact the Eighth Coast Guard Command Center at (504) 589-6225.

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