Coast Guard suspends active search for missing boater near Sunshine Skyway

7th Coast Guard District News
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Coast Guard suspended its active search Saturday at 8:42 p.m., for a missing boater near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa Bay.

Multiple Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary assets, as well as State of Florida and local law enforcement agencies conducted an extensive search of the area over a 23-hour period. Coast Guard crews alone conducted an accumulated 34 boatcrew hours, and the combined search patterns conducted by air and water assets total approximately 410 square nautical miles of overlapping searched area for Quang Minh Tran, a 36 year old man from Pinellas Park, Fla.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg were notified by a good Samaritan at 9:33 p.m. Friday, that an unmanned 18-foot skiff was discovered circling near the center span of the Sunshine Skyway bridge.

The good Samaritan recovered two people from the water shortly after the notification, Phong Quoc Ngo, a 44 year-old-man from Tampa, and a 6 year-old-boy were discovered near the circling skiff and transferred to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at O’Neils Marina where Phong Quoc Ngo was pronounced deceased. The 6 year-old-boy was brought to Bayfront Medical Center.

A third person, Hoa Van, a 34 year-old-man from Pinellas Park, was rescued by the Coast Guard Cutter Crocodile’s small response boat and was also transferred to the FWC at O’Neils Marina and taken to Bayfront Medical.

Participating in the search were:

  • Coast Guard Station St. Petersburg 25-foot and 45-foot rescue boats
  • Coast Guard Station Cortez 25-foot rescue boat
  • Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter
  • Coast Guard Cutter Crocodile
  • Coast Guard Auxiliary aircraft
  • Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
  • Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office
  • Eckerd College Search and Rescue crews

“After searching extensively for 23 hours, we are confident that we have exhausted all reasonable expectations of survivability for this missing person,” said Capt. Sheryl Dickinson, Commander of Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg. “During this difficult time, our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Mr. Tran.

Editor’s Note: Over the busy Memorial Day weekend, the Coast Guard urges boaters to stay safe and use extra care while out on the water.

Coast Guard and numerous local law enforcement crews will be patrolling, conducting safety checks and watching for people boating while intoxicated or operating vessels in an unsafe manner. The public should be aware of their surroundings, including watching the weather and understanding the hazards of boating under the influence of alcohol.

“Taking simple precautions before going out on the water can mean the difference between a fun, safe day on the water and ending up in a life or death situation,” said Capt. Sheryl Dickinson, Commander of Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg. “Always check the weather, wear your lifejackets, know your boating limits, file a float plan with a friend or family member and bring emergency signaling devices with you out on the water.”

Additional information on safe and secure boating practices can be found at the Coast Guard’s Office of Boating Safety page at or by calling (800) 368-5647.

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