Coast Guard ends search for missing boater in Saint Croix

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Coast Guard rescue crews at Sector San Juan ended their search pending further developments Wednesday afternoon for a missing boater in waters south of Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.

The missing boater was one of three men from Puerto Rico on a recreational fishing trip aboard a 14-foot vessel. The boaters reportedly fell into the water at approximately 5 p.m. Monday after they lost control of their vessel when it went into a spiral.

The Coast Guard launched a multi-day search after Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan received a call from a 911 Emergency Services operator Monday night, who notified that one the boaters called in the incident after he reportedly swam for two hours before safely reaching shore.

Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, launched a HH-65 Dolphin helicopter, while Coast Guard Boat Forces in Saint Croix launched a 25-foot Response Boat to search for the two remaining boaters.

The crew of a Coast Guard helicopter located the boater’s vessel right-side up at approximately 12:15 a.m. Tuesday, in waters approximately 4.5 nautical miles southwest of the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport in Saint Croix, however, no signs of the missing boaters were found.

The crew of a Boat Forces Saint Croix response boat located and recovered a deceased boater from the water Tuesday morning, approximately 2.5 nautical miles southwest of the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport in Saint Croix.

Since the search began Monday, Coast Guard rescue crews conducted a total of 19 searches alongside the Coast Guard Auxiliary and Saint Croix’s Blue Lightning Maritime Police. Coast Guard rescue crews searched approximately 1,039 square nautical miles with surface and air assets, which also included a Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry and a Coast Guard Auxiliary fixed-wing aircraft.

If anyone has any information on the missing boater they are asked to contact the Coast Guard by VHF radio on Channel 16 or dial directly to787-289-2041.

Boating Safety Tips:
The best way to stay safe is to prevent an accident before it occurs. Prevention of accidents can be accomplished by following these important safety tips:

  • Always wear a life jacket
  • Carry a VHF-FM marine radio and/or an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon
  • Don’t drink and boat
  • Take a boating class, educated boaters are safe boaters
  • Check weather forecasts
  • Make sure the boat is in good repair
  • Check all safety gear and ensure that everybody is trained in its use
  • Don’t overload your boat
  • Operate at a safe speed; a safe speed is the distance you can safely stop to avoid a collision in the prevailing visibility and or density of boating traffic
  • File a float plan; Float plans outline your voyage by documenting times and locations of departure and expected arrival, number and ages of people on board, vessel description, safety equipment on board and much more. A copy should be left on the dashboard of your vehicle, visible from the outside, as well as with a responsible party in which you keep in regular contact. They should be instructed that in the event your vessel does not arrive as planned, to contact the nearest Coast Guard station.

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