Coast Guard suspends search for missing Pasco County man

PORT RICHEY, Fla. – The Coast Guard has suspended a two-day search for a missing boater who did not return from a fishing trip near Anclote Key, Fla., Aug. 17.

Multiple Coast Guard units, Coast Guard Auxiliary crews, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) crews and Pasco County Sheriff units have searched continuously for Mark Portus, a 49-year-old man from New Port Richey. A Portus family member contacted search-and-rescue coordinators at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg, Fla., at about 6 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 17. Portus reportedly departed the Pithlachascotee River, in Port Richey, on a 22-foot fishing boat at about 9 a.m. and had not returned. Portus’ boat was discovered aground on a sandbar with the engine running near the north end of Anclote Key at about 7:30 Monday night.

Since Monday, Coast Guard units have been continuously searching including 25-foot rescue boat crews from Coast Guard Station Sand Key, in Clearwater, Fla., HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crews from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, the 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Crocodile from St. Petersburg, Fla., and have searched in conjunction with Pasco County Sheriff’s units, Coast Guard Auxiliary boats and aircraft, and multiple FWC vessels.

All together, Coast Guard crews searched over 1300 square miles of water, covered by 19 separate overlapping search patterns. Additional search patterns and areas were covered by FWC and Pasco County Sheriff units.

Although the Coast Guard has suspended its search, Capt. Timothy Close, Commander Sector St. Petersburg, released the following statement: “If friends of the family or people looking to assist the family are planning additional voluntary searches they should exercise appropriate caution, particularly with respect to local weather conditions. We recommend anyone who does go out, file a float plan with a family member or friend, has emergency equipment on board, including EPIRB, and wears a lifejacket” said Close.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating this case.

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