Coast Guard suspends search for missing Steinhatchee, Fla. boater

24 Grand IsleST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— The Coast Guard has suspended the search for a missing 54-year-old man near Steinhatchee, Florida, Friday.

Edward Viola, 54, from Steinhatchee went missing Sunday evening after entering the water to fix engine troubles on his 15-foot boat.

The Coast Guard searched 2,321 square nautical miles during 24 searches for over 62 hours.

“Our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of Edward,” said Capt. Gregory Case, Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg Commander. “Suspending the search is never an easy decision to make.”

At 9:46 a.m. Monday, watchstanders from Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg received a call from a the Sea Hag Marina in Steinhatchee, reporting a Good Samaritan had located and recovered a woman from the water approximately nine miles southwest of the Steinhatchee River entrance.

Cheryl Sims, 50, from Steinhatchee stated she had been with her boyfriend, Viola, aboard a 15-foot boat, Sunday evening. After dark, Viola entered the water when the boat experienced engine trouble. Sims went into the water to assist but lost contact with her boyfriend and the boat. Viola was last seen clinging to a blue seat cushion.

An HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Florida, was launched and at 10:50 a.m. located the boat 17 miles southwest of Steinhatchee.

A 24-foot Special Purpose Craft-Shallow Water boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Yankeetown, Florida, and a HC-130 Hercules from Air Station Clearwater, a Coast Guard 29-foot patrol boat, a Coast Guard 87-foot patrol boat, Coast Guard Auxiliary air and sea crews, crews from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Dixie County Sheriff’s Office aided in the search.

The Coast Guard asks the public to keep a sharp lookout and contact Coast Guard watchstanders at (727) 824-7506 with any information regarding the whereabouts of Viola.

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