Coast Guard calls off search after missing boater sends email to his family

BOSTON – The Coast Guard called off a search for a missing man aboard his sail boat Aflora today after it was confirmed the boater sent an email at 10:15 p.m. Sunday to his family that he is safe and unhurt.

Stephen Whelan became overdue at 7 p.m. Sunday when he did not arrive in Newport, R.I., which prompted his concerned family members to call the Coast Guard.

Whelan attempted crossing from Block Island to Newport, but turned back after experiencing heavy seas.

Two Station Point Judith, R.I. small boats and a Station Woods Hole, Mass. 41-foot utility boat were involved in the search, along with land units who attempted to look for the vessel on shore. An Air Station Cape Cod HH-60 Jayhawk rescue helicopter also responded during the search.

The Coast Guard regularly issued radio calls to any boaters in the vicinity of Block Island Sound asking to be on the lookout for the vessel.

“Finding out about the email was a great help to us,” said John Tomaszewski from the First District Operations Center in Boston. “Good communication like this by the public is nice to have during a search, and we are glad the family notified us about it.”

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