Search suspended for 3 overdue boaters near Georgetown, S.C.

USCG file photo

MIAMI — The Coast Guard suspended its search Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. for the three overdue boaters near Georgetown, S.C.

The Coast Guard, along with local agencies, conducted a massive search effort for the three boaters after their 23-foot pleasue craft was reported overdue from a fishing trip in the vicinity of Georgetown Thursday.

Missing are: Jim Sanders, 67, Steve Sanders, 44, and Andy Murray, 30, all from Florence, S.C.

A family member reported the three boaters departed from South Island Ferry Landing near Georgetown Thursday morning and planned to return before sunset. When they did not return Thursday night as expected, family members contacted the Coast Guard and local authorities, who initiated a search to locate the missing men.

Multiple Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary assets, as well as State of South Carolina and local law enforcement agencies searched for approximately 172 hours and covered approximately 43,000 square miles, which is an area roughly the same size as the State of Virginia.

Participating in the search were:

  • Coast Guard Station Georgetown 25-foot rescue boat
  • Coast Guard Station Charleston 41-foot rescue boat
  • Coast Guard Air Station Savannah, Ga., MH-65 Dolphin helicopter
  • Coast Guard Air Facility Charleston, S.C., MH-65 Dolphin helicopter
  • Coast Guard Cutter Tarpon
  • Coast Guard Cutter Yellowfin
  • Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Fla., HC-130
  • Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., HC-130
  • Coast Guard Auxiliary aircraft
  • South Carolina Department of Natual Resources
  • Georgetown Sheriff’s Office
  • Charleston County Sheriff’s Office

“After searching extensively for six days, we are confident that we have exhausted all reasonable search efforts to find the missing men,” said Capt. Peter Brown, Coast Guard District Seven chief of response. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Sanders and Murray families during this difficult time.”

The Coast Guard advises all mariners to always wear life jackets, file a float plan, carry a working VHF marine radio and have a registered Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) while underway. A float plan is a written document with the details of a trip. It includes information such as the planned route, how far out the boater plans to go and when the boater plans to return. If a boater doesn’t return as scheduled, it lets a family member or friend know that something might be wrong so they can contact officials quickly and provide the information needed to verify the boater is safe or start a search and rescue mission. Just as important, an EPIRB tells the Coast Guard that something is definitely wrong so we can immediately send search-and-rescue assets out to the exact location of a distress signal. It provides important information to rescue crews including continuously updated and highly accurate positions of the distress beacon, vessel identification information such as length and type of vessel and contact information so authorities can gather additional information valuable to the search effort.

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