Coast Guard continues search for three missing boaters

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Coast Guard continues its search for three of four missing boaters who went missing about 50 miles west of Clearwater Pass Saturday.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg received a call Sunday around 1: 30 a.m., reporting that four friends, Victor “Marquis” Cooper, Nick Schuyler, Corey Smith and William Bleakley¬† did not return from their fishing trip as expected. The four boaters left Saturday around 6:30 a.m. from the Seminole Boat Ramp in Clearwater Pass in a 21-foot center-console boat.

At about noon Monday, the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Tornado located Nick Schuyler about 39 miles west of Egmont Key, Fla., sitting on top of the over-turned 21-foot boat with a life-jacket on.

“We were able to receive information from Schuyler that helped us adjust our search planning and we intend to continue searching for the three missing boaters, said Capt. Timothy M. Close, Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg Commander.

Assets searching are:

  • One Coast Guard C-130 Hercules fixed-wing aircrew from Air Station Clearwater, Fla.
  • The crew of the 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Crocodile, homeported in St. Petersburg, Fla.
  • The crew of the 110-foot Coast Guard Cutter Nantucket, homeported in St. Petersburg
  • The crew of the 179-foot Coast Guard Cutter Tornado, homeported in Pascagoula, Miss.

The Coast Guard is searching a combined area of more than 2,000 square miles.

If anyone has any information that can help locate the four missing boaters, they are asked to call Sector St. Petersburg at 727-824-7506 or by marine VHF radio channel 16.

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