Missing Fishing Boat With Four Onboards Makes Contact With Coast Guard

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Four boaters aboard a 63-foot commercial fishing vessel who were reported to be missing off the coast of Jacksonville Tuesday made contact with Coast Guard watchstanders early Wednesday morning via VHF radio.

At approximately 4 a.m. Wednesday, watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville received a radio call via VHF channel 16 from a crewmember aboard the vessel, Whitewater II, reporting the craft had been struck by lightning causing all navigation equipment to fail.

Found are: Steve Sozio, the boat’s operator, and crew members Larry Dermes, Shawn Lawson and Walter Schwuchow.

The crewmembers aboard Whitewater II were on a two-week long liner fishing trip and last made contact with shore Sunday after previously making communication checks every 10 hours. The trip was originally scheduled to conclude May 5 at Wadmalaw Island, S.C.

A Coast Guard C-130 long-range surveillance aircraft crew from Air Station Clearwater, Fla., assisted in the search for the missing boaters.

The four men have no reported injuries and are currently transiting back to Whitewater II’s homeport at Wadmalaw Island.

The Coast Guard is reminding all mariners, commercial and recreational, how important it is to file a float plan before going out onto the water. Telling somebody on shore your itinerary can save your life. For more information about float plans and other boating safety suggestions please click here.

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