Coast Guard Searching for Missing Georgia Men

STEINHATCHEE, Fla. – The Coast Guard, along with state and local agencies, have been searching in the vicinity of the Steinhatchee River for two missing boaters in a 19-foot boat, since about 7 a.m. Thursday.

According to family members, Chris Buckhalter, 37, and his uncle, John Buckhalter, 54, both residents of Macon, Ga., brought the boat to the Steinhatchee Marina to do some fishing and work on their grandmothers’ house, next to the marina.

The Coast Guard received a call from the spouse of Chris about 12 a.m., reporting the two men headed to the marina Tuesday morning and had not spoken to her husband since.

The Coast Guard received confirmation at 8:10 a.m., Thursday from a worker at the Steinhatchee Marina that both men arrived at the marina about 3 p.m., Tuesday. The two left gear, food, and their cell phones at the house and took the boat for a test drive about 3:30 p.m., Tuesday.

Further investigation found that the vessel the two men were using had a history of engine problems.

A Coast Guard Station Yankeetown, Fla., 27-foot response boat, a 47-foot response boat from Station Sand Key, in Clearwater, Fla., and a Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater HH-60 Jayhawk rescue helicopter, along with Taylor County Sheriff’s Office, and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission air and marine units, are searching the area for the two men.

“We are carefully monitoring the current developing tropical depression for the effect it will have in our search area and on our search assets and missing boaters,” said Chief Warrant Officer Kevin Coyne, command center chief, Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg, Fla.

It was reported that the two men had lifejackets onboard.

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