Coast Guard searching for overdue boaters off Jacksonville coast

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Coast Guard is searching for four overdue boaters Tuesday who have failed to make contact with anybody on shore since Sunday morning.

The boaters aboard the 63-foot commercial fishing vessel, Whitewater II, were reported to be on a two-week longliners fishing trip that is expected to conclude May 5 at Wadmalaw Island, S.C.

A Coast Guard C-130 long-range surveillance aircraft crew from Air Station Clearwater, Fla., has deployed to search for the missing boaters.

Missing are Steve Sozio, the boat’s operator, and crewmembers Larry Dermes, Shawn Lawson and Walter Schwuchow.

Whitewater II last made contact with the vessel’s shore station via satellite phone early Sunday morning. The crew’s last known location was approximately 230 miles off the coast of Mayport, Fla. Previous to the last call made, the crew had conducted communication checks with Whitewater II’s owner and their sister ship, Whitewater I, every 10 hours.

The crew is reported to have survival equipment on board including lifejackets, flares, radar and food and water.

If anybody has any information concerning the whereabouts of the Whitewater II crew please contact Coast Guard watch standers at 904-564-7511.

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