Coast Guard Suspends Search for Missing Georgia Man

STEINHATCHEE, Fla. – The Coast Guard suspended its search at about 12 p.m. Sunday, for the boater who went missing in the vicinity of the Steinhatchee River Tuesday evening.

Chris Burkhalter, 37, of Macon, Ga., along with his uncle, John Burkhalter, 54, also of Macon, left the Steinhatchee Marina in their 19-foot boat at about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, when sometime later the vessel’s engine failed and the men began drifting.

The men were reported overdue to the Coast Guard at about 12 a.m. Thursday. The Coast Guard along with several federal, state and local agencies, immediately launched rescue assets to search for the men.

A Patrick Air Force Base C-130 search plane located John Burkhalter on the disabled vessel at 6 p.m., Thursday, 44-miles southwest of the Steinhatchee River. A Patrick Air Force Base HH-60 Jayhawk rescue helicopter safely hoisted him from the boat and brought him to Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Fla., in good condition.

According to John, Chris donned two lifejackets and jumped overboard at about 6 p.m., Wednesday, and attempted to swim to shore. Chris was also reported to have used a cooler top as an additional flotation device.

The Coast Guard’s air and marine units, Coast Guard Auxiliary air units, the Air Force, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission marine units, the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office, the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office and the Sundowner Search and Rescue Air Patrol searched 10,925-square-miles for more than 80 hours with no sign of Chris.

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