Coast Guard searching for 71-year-old man southwest Crystal River

Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater HC-130 Hercules aircraft file photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael De Nyse

Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater HC-130 Hercules aircraft file photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael De Nyse

CRYSTAL RIVER, Fla. — The Coast Guard continues to search Thursday for a 71-year-old man 30 miles southwest Crystal River.

Missing is Ernest Bishop, from Crystal River.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg command center received a 911 relay at 10:20 p.m. Wednesday from Bishop’s wife stating he was overdue. She stated he departed Wednesday at 10 a.m from the Fort Island Trail Park aboard his 23-foot fishing boat. He was to return before sunset and was wearing a tee shirt and khaki shorts.

Watchstanders issued an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast, launched a 27-foot Utility Boat-Medium (UT-M) boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Yankeetown, a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium (RB-M) boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Sand Key and an HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater.

The Hercules aircrew spotted Bishop’s boat 15 miles south of Crystal River Thursday about 1 a.m. and the RB-M boatcrew confirmed it was unmanned and adrift.

Search crews are saturating a 1,250 square mile area west of Crystal River in search of Bishop. Partner agency personnel from Citrus County Sheriff’s Office and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are assisting with the search.

The Coast Guard urges all boaters to file a float plan with someone on land before venturing out on the water. Boaters are urged to download the Coast Guard Boating Safety APP for many safety tips and tools.

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