Coast Guard ends search for overdue boater near Fort Myers Beach

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. – Coast Guard crews ended their search for an overdue boater approximately nine miles offshore between Wiggins Pass and Clam Pass, Fla., at about 10:15 a.m., Thursday.

Bart Bailey, a 50- year-old male, contacted his wife Pepper Bailey, via a Good Samaritan’s cell phone at about 10 a.m., and reported that after his white and blue 24-foot commercial-crab boat had began to sink, he swam to the shore of Barefoot Beach, in Bonita Springs, Fla.

Bailey was reported to be wearing a life jacket when Emergency Medical Service arrived to pick him up.

Pepper Bailey contacted Coast Guard officials at Coast Guard Station Fort Myers Beach at about midnight, Wednesday. Mrs. Bailey reported that her husband departed at about 7 a.m., Wednesday to lay crab pots as far as nine miles west of Clam Pass and had yet to return.

The Coast Guard immediately launched an HH-60 Jayhawk rescue helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Fla., and a 33-foot rescue boat crew from Coast Guard Station Fort Myers Beach to search for Bailey.

Three Coast Guard Auxiliary vessels, along with two Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission boat crews, Bonita Springs Fire and Rescue, Lee County Sheriff’s Department and Collier County Sheriff’s Department also assisted in the search.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating the boating accident.

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