Coast Guard suspends search for missing paddle boarder near Jones Beach

65 Atlantic CityNEW YORK — The Coast Guard has suspended the search for a paddle boarder who was last seen off Atlantic Beach, New York, on Sunday.

Missing is Gary Turkel, 41.

Turkel was reported missing by the Nassau County Fire Department at approximately 6:15 p.m. on Sunday.

A family member called local authorities and stated Turkel had gone out on a paddle board and had not returned. A lifeguard in the vicinity of Atlantic Beach last saw him at approximately 3:30 p.m. Sunday on the paddle board without a life jacket.

Coast Guard crews began searching Sunday at 7:30 p.m. During the 70-hour search effort, crews completed 25 search patterns and covered 3,141 nautical miles.

The following search and rescue crews assisted with the search:

  • Coast Guard Station Jones Beach, New York, 47-foot Motor Lifeboat
  • Coast Guard Station Fire Island, New York, 47-foot Motor Lifeboat
  • Coast Guard Station Sandy Hook, New Jersey, 47-foot Motor Lifeboat
  • Coast Guard Cutter Bonito, an 87-foot Patrol Boat homeported in Montauk, New York
  • Coast Guard Cutter Sailfish, an 87-foot Patrol Boat homeported in Sandy Hook, New Jersey
  • Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City, New Jersey, MH-65 Dolphin helicopter
  • Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina, HC-130 Super Hercules aircraft
  • New York Fire Department marine unit
  • New York Police Department aviation unit
  • Atlantic Beach Fire Department
  • Atlantic Beach Rescue
  • Nassau County Marine and Aviation Units
  • Lawrence-Cedarhurst Fire Department
  • Private Helicopter 353JS

“We treat every search effort as if we were searching for one of our own family members,” said Captain Edward Cubanski, III, commander Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound. “I would like to send my deepest sympathy and heartfelt thoughts out to the family and friends of Mr. Turkel during this tragic time.”

The Coast Guard wants to remind all those who venture on the water to always wear a life jacket. The number one cause of water fatalities is drowning. A proper life jacket increases the chances of survival for anyone who may unexpectedly enter the water.

The Coast Guard encourages boaters who enjoy paddlesports to continue doing so, but to use the correct safety and survival equipment. Paddlesport enthusiasts should also brush up on paddling education by taking one or more of the paddler education classes offered by the Coast Guard Auxiliary, state departments of natural resources, community park districts, paddling clubs and local commercial outfitters.

Paddlers should always check the weather forecast before a trip and should dress for the water temperature, rather than the air temperature. At times this might mean wearing wet or dry suits while paddling.

A float plan should be completed and left with someone who is not going out on the water. A float plan is a lifesaving device on paper and provides emergency responders with valuable information they would need in order to search for a distressed or overdue boater. Information on a float plan and how to obtain a blank float plan can be found at

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