Coast Guard locates missing boater 15 miles west of Suwannee, FL

Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater MH-60 file photo

Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater MH-60 file photo

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Coast Guard located a missing boater 15 miles west of Suwannee on Friday.

Rescued was Trenton native, Jerry Driggers, 71.

At 10:57 p.m. Thursday, Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg watchstanders received a report from Driggers’ wife stating Driggers was due back from a fishing trip aboard his 22-foot boat by sunset and had not returned. Driggers’ wife gave watchstanders a complete float plan, including where he was leaving from, where he was going, and when he planned to return.

A Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew was launched, and at 5:27 a.m. Friday, located Driggers aboard his boat. After the air crew lowered a radio to Driggers, he stated he was OK, but his boat was disabled. An HC-130 Hercules also was launched and maintained communications with Driggers.

A commercial salvage boat crew went to Driggers location and towed him back to shore. There were no reported injuries.

“Mr. Driggers did everything right,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Walker, a Sector St. Petersburg watchstander. “Float plans dramatically decrease the search area for emergency responders. We urge every boater to prepare a float plan and give it to a family member or friend before leaving the dock.”

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