Coast Guard suspends search for missing boater near Smithfield, VA

Coast Guard MH-60 helicopter

USCG MH-60 helicopter file photo

PORTSMOUTH, Va. – The Coast Guard suspended its search for the missing man at 8:54 p.m. Friday.

Multiple rescue crews searched approximately 23 square miles over a 14-hour period.

Participating in the search were crews from the Coast Guard Cutters Shearwater and the CGC Chock, small boat crews from Station Portsmouth, MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter air crews from Air Station Elizabeth City as well as crews from local agencies including Virginia Marine Resources Commission, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Newport News Fire and Police Departments, Isle of Wight Department of Emergency Response, Suffolk Police Department, Hampton Fire Department, Norfolk Police and Fire Departments, Smithfield Police Department, Virginia Beach Fire Department and the Chesapeake Police Department.

At 3:43 a.m., the operator of the tug Robert Burton reported to Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads watchstanders that they had collided with what appeared to be an abandoned, unlit sailboat in the James River Channel approximately 6 miles north of the James River Bridge. Subsequently, the Coast Guard responded to a 911 call from one of the people that swam to shore after the 22-foot sailboat capsized. The person stated that some of the passengers swam ashore, their sailboat was adrift and several members remained unaccounted for.

The cause of the incident is under investigation by Virginia Marine Police.

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