Coast Guard Rescues Missing Boater, Continues Search for Three Others

By John J. Kruzel, American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON – The Coast Guard today rescued a boater whose vessel capsized in the Gulf of Mexico, and continues a high-profile search and rescue mission for three others who were onboard.

Rescuers found former University of South Florida football player Nick Schuyler about 35 miles off the coast of Florida, clinging to the hull of a 21-foot fishing boat that reportedly overturned during a storm Feb. 28.

The Coast Guard continues to search for three others: Oakland Raiders linebacker Marquis Cooper, Detroit Lions free agent Corey Smith and former University of South Florida player William Bleakley.

Schuyler was flown via Coast Guard helicopter to Tampa General Hospital. Coast Guard Petty Officer Robert Simpson told CNN that Schuyler said he had been wearing a life vest at the time of the capsizing; it’s unclear whether the other three were wearing preservers.

Coast Guard aircraft from Clearwater, Fla.; Miami; and Mobile, Ala.; and helicopters and a C-130 Hercules from the Air Force provided an aerial search, Coast Guard Capt. Timothy M. Close said at a news conference today in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Several Coast Guard ships covered the 16,000-square-mile area from the sea. Meanwhile, the Coast Guard has narrowed its area of focus as it continues to search for the three other men. Four Coast Guard cutters and two Air Force helicopters are searching a 30-mile radius around where the boat was found.

“The search is ongoing,” Close said. “We’re continuing to hit this hard.”

The four reportedly left Clearwater Beach, Fla., on a fishing trip the morning of Feb. 28 and were expected to return that afternoon. A cold front struck that evening, causing strong winds and seas that reached an estimated 14 feet.

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