Coast Guard suspends search for 4 missing boaters in Puerto Rico

USCG File Photo

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The Coast Guard suspended the search for four boaters at sunset Tuesday, who have been missing since Thursday, after their vessel reportedly experienced mechanical problems near Icacos Cay in the area of ​​Fajardo, Puerto Rico.

Still missing are Hector Méndez, 60, Héctor Méndez Jr., 30, Javier Méndez, 52, and Victor Goitia, 59.

“As with any search and rescue case, Coast Guard men and women put their heart and soul into achieving a positive outcome for which one of the most difficult decisions is to suspend a search without finding any survivors,” said Capt. Eric King, commander of Coast Guard Sector San Juan. “For the past five days, the Coast Guard, along with all of our partner agencies, put forth a maximum effort to locate the four boaters who remain missing. Our hearts and our prayers are with the Mendez and Goitia family during this most difficult time.”

Since the search began on Friday afternoon, Coast Guard air and surface units conducted over 46 searches covering more than 22,000 square nautical miles, an area approximately six times the size of Puerto Rico. The search area comprised eastern waters of Puerto Rico between the island’s municpalities of Fajardo, Vieques and Culebra, and extended over 80 miles offshore across the entire northern coast of Puerto Rico.

Watchstanders at Sector San Juan’s Command Center received initial notification of the distress Friday afternoon via a telephone call from the local 911 Emergency Service operator, who informed that the Wepa, a 22-foot, white colored Proline recreational boat did not return to Villa Marina in Fajardo when expected Thursday afternoon.

Personnel from a towing and salvage company in Fajardo, Puerto Rico reported receiving a call at approximately 5 p.m., Thursday requesting assistance for the Wepa due to mechanical damages the vessel sustained near Icacos Cay. The operator of the towing service notified that after arriving at the scene, about 30 minutes after the call, no signs of the Wepa or its occupants were found at the scene.

Coast Guard units which participated in the search efforts:

  • Coast Guard Boat Station San Juan
  • MH-65 Dolphin helicopters from Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen
  • HC-130 Hercules fixed-wing aircraft from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Fla.
  • HC-144 Ocean Sentry fixed-wing aircraft from Coast Guard Air Station Miami
  • U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos (WPC-1118)
  • U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Napier (WPC-1115)
  • Coast Guard Auxiliary fixed-wing aircraft

Local agencies assisting in the search efforts:

  • Puerto Rico Department of Public Security
  • Puerto Rico Police Bureau – United Forces of Rapid Action
  • Bureau of the State Agency for Emergency and Disaster Management
  • Puerto Rico National Guard
  • Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources
  • Civil Air Patrol

Anyone with information on this case can contact the Coast Guard Sector San Juan Command Center at 787-289-2041.

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