Coast Guard Suspending Search for Missing Joe Cool Crew

MIAMI – The Coast Guard suspended its search Thursday at sunset for four crewmembers of the sport-fishing vessel Joe Cool, reported overdue Sunday from a trip to Bimini, Bahamas, originating from Miami Saturday.

Joe Cool’s operator Jake Branam, and crewmembers Kelly Branam, Scott Gamble and Sammy Kairy, who were the focus of the Coast Guard’s search efforts, remain missing.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the crew of the Joe Cool,” said Lt. Cmdr. Chris O’Neil, public affairs officer for the Seventh Coast Guard District. “Our decision to suspend the search is made in light of our confidence that if the crew of the Joe Cool was in the areas we searched, we would have found them. Our active search is suspended pending further developments. This means that units are not actively searching however should a mariner or one of our own routine patrols find something or someone correlating to this case, we would renew our search.”

Throughout the five-day search between Daytona Beach, Fla., and south to Cay Sal Banks, Bahamas, the Coast Guard has searched a combined total of more than 14,850 square miles.

The Coast Guard began searching Sunday after family members notified the Coast Guard around 4 p.m. after the Joe Cool failed to return from a scheduled charter to Bimini. The Coast Guard located the Joe Cool two hours later 160 miles south of its original destination and increased its search efforts in that area. Crewmembers from the Cutter Pea Island located the abandoned Joe Cool 160 miles south of Bimini Sunday. Guillermo Zarabozo and Kirby Archer were found aboard a life raft by a Coast Guard HH-65 aircrew Monday morning, north of the Joe Cool’s location.

FBI agents were flown Monday to the Cutter Confidence where they began their investigation, and interviewing Zarabozo and Archer..

Coast Guard assets involved in the search included the 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Cormorant, the 210-foot Coast Guard Cutter Confidence and its deployed HH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Miami, the 110-foot cutters Pea Island, the 210-foot Coast Guard Cutter Reliance, an HU-25 Falcon jet from Air Station Miami, a C-130 Hercules from Air Station Clearwater, Fla., an HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Clearwater deployed in support of Operation Bahamas Turks and Caicos (OPBAT), a Coast Guard Auxiliary aircraft, a Good Samaritan aircraft, a C-130 Hercules from Patrick Air Force Base, Cape Canveral, Fla., and a Navy P-3 aircraft joined the search Thursday as well.

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