Coast Guard suspends search for man in North Pacific

Hawaii-Pacific Coast Guard News
HONOLULU — The Coast Guard has suspended the search for a missing mariner who fell overboard from a sailing vessel in the North Pacific early Sunday.

The search for Luke Stimson was suspended at 9 a.m. Tuesday pending any further developments. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy crews searched approximately 2,340 square miles in a search area 575 miles west of Midway Atoll. Coast Guard and Navy crews searched a total of 50 hours over the course of three days.

Coast Guard watchstanders in Joint Rescue Coordination Center Honolulu were notified by Marine Rescue Coordination Center Falmouth, United Kingdom, that Stimson, one of the two-person crew, had fallen overboard from the 38-foot sailing vessel Jonetsu. Stimson was reportedly wearing a yellow lifejacket and was conscious when he fell into the water. The second crewmember, Laura Vernon, incorrectly identified previously as Laura Beinon, did not have enough sailing experience to safely navigate the vessel alone.

The U.S. Navy warship USS Peleliu (LHA 5), a Tarawa-Class amphibious assault ship, was diverted from their homeward bound transit to assist in the search. The Peleliu deployed two MH-60 helicopters at approximately 5 a.m. Sunday to conduct search patterns. One MH-60 helicopter located the sailing vessel and conducted a basket hoist to rescue Vernon at approximately 12 p.m. Sunday. She was taken safely to the Peleliu with no reported injuries.

Two HC-130 Hercules airplane crews from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point, Oahu, alternated searches from Midway Atoll and Wake Island throughout Sunday, Sunday night and Monday. During Sunday night, two Navy MH-60 helicopters and two CH-46 helicopters conducted six more searches of the area.

“We offer our thoughts and prayers to the Stimson and Vernon families during this difficult time,” said Jennifer Conklin, a JRCC Honolulu search and rescue specialist. “Suspending a search is never an easy decision, nor is it one that is made quickly.”

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