Coast Guard ends search for three missing Haitian migrants off Mona Island, Puerto Rico

Southeastern Coast Guard News
2 other Haitians are recovered deceased, while 13 others survive

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Coast Guard rescue crews ended their search Sunday for three missing Haitian migrants, originally part of a group of 18, who attempted to make landfall on Mona Island, Puerto Rico during an illegal migrant voyage Saturday morning.

So far, a Haitian man and woman have been recovered deceased and three others remain missing, following reports from survivors that five members of the group failed to come out of the water after smugglers forced them to jump into the heavy surf and swim to shore.

A total of seven men and six woman were able to survive the ordeal and safely reach Mona Island, where they made contact with Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources Park Rangers and reported the situation.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector San Juan, alerted by Ramey Sector Border Patrol agents of the developing situation, diverted the Coast Guard Cutters William Flores and Farallon and launched an MH-65C Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen in Aguadilla and a Coast Guard Auxiliary fixed-wing aircraft to search for the missing migrants.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the deceased and those who remain missing,” Capt. Drew W. Pearson, Sector San Juan commander. “This tragic ending appears to be the result of ruthless smugglers discarding their precious cargo into the perilous seas off Mona Island. All indications are the smugglers took care of themselves and left these five individuals, who were only looking for a better life, to perish off Mona Island. Once again I urge anyone contemplating putting their life in the hands of heartless smuggler to not do it. Don’t become or let a loved one become the next life lost at the hands of a smuggler.”

The survivors were transported to Air Station Borinquen by Customs and Border Protection UH-60 helicopter crews, where they were transferred to the custody of Border Patrol agents. The Customs and Border Protection aircrews transported the deceased to Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, where they were transferred to the Puerto Rico Police.

The Coast Guard Cutter William Flores is a 154-Fast Response Cutter homeported in Miami, while the Coast Guard Cutter Farallon is a 110-foot patrol boat homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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