Coast Guard Searching for Possible Missing Boaters

FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Coast Guard is searching an area between Big Marco Pass, Fla., and Cape Romano, Fla., for possible missing boaters after an unmanned vessel was found on Marco Island Beach, Fla., at about 9:15 a.m. Monday.

Rescue coordinators at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg, Fla., received a call from the Marco Island Police Department at about 9 a.m., reporting that a 16-foot flats boat was located aground with the key in the ignition, the throttle in reverse and the navigation lights engaged.

The Coast Guard launched an HH-60 Jayhawk rescue helicopter from Air Station Clearwater, Fla., and a 33-foot Special Purpose Craft-Law Enforcement (SPC-LE) vessel from Station Ft. Myers Beach, Fla., at about 9: 30 a.m., Monday, to search the area for possible missing boaters.

Rescue crews from Marco Island Fire and Rescue, Marco Island Police Department, Collier County Sheriff’s Office, Isle of Capri Fire and Rescue and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are assisting in the search.

The vessel was reported stolen to the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, at 5 p.m., Sunday, by its owner. Witnesses on scene Monday reported that the vessel was seen at about 9 p.m., Sunday, going in circles in the vicinity of Big Marco Pass. However, it was not reported to authorities at the time.

It is unknown how many boaters were on the vessel. The Collier County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident.

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