Coast Guard suspends search for man off Aguadilla

Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City HC-130 Hercules aircraft file photo.

Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City HC-130 Hercules aircraft file photo.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The Coast Guard suspended the search pending further developments Friday evening for a man who jumped from a migrant vessel to swim to shore off Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.

Still missing is Daniel Pichardo Martínez, 21, Dominican Republic national, who was last seen by two survivors in this case who were rescued by the Coast Guard Thursday night, following an irregular migration vessel interdiction in Mona Passage waters, Thursday morning.

“Despite the efforts to find this young man, his fate remains uncertain,” said Capt. José E. Díaz, Coast Guard Sector San Juan commander. Unfortunately, this case highlights the dangers of maritime migration voyages, which most often take place aboard grossly overloaded makeshift vessels with little or no lifesaving equipment. To anyone thinking of taking part in such a voyage, we urge you to not take to sea, your life and the life of everyone else in the voyage will be at risk.”

A Coast Guard MH-60T Jayhawk aircrew found and rescued the first survivor at 7:06 p.m., approximately three and half nautical miles from shore. The first survivor was reported to be wearing a life jacket. Shortly thereafter, the second survivor, also reported to be wearing a life jacket, was able to contact a 911 emergency service operator and inform that he could see the helicopter searching. Coast Guard watchstanders assisted in relaying the information to the Coast Guard aircrew who located and rescued the second survivor at approximately 8:15 p.m., Thursday.

The second survivor informed losing contact with Pichardo Martinez, approximately four hours before being rescued, and that he was not wearing a life jacket.

Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan initiated the search for survivors Thursday morning, after a Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action marine unit interdicted a migrant vessel, approximately 12 nautical miles northwest of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. Following the interdiction, the Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Napier diverted to the scene and embarked 31 migrants, who claimed to be Dominican Republic nationals. During the embarkation, the migrants informed they had been adrift for four to five days, and that at least three other migrants had jumped into the water just moments before the interdiction.

Coast Guard air and surface units completed 12 air and two surface searches, covering over 3,339 square nautical miles within the search area, an area approximately the size of Puerto Rico.

Coast Guard assets involved in the search were:

  • Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Napier
  • Two Coast Guard MH-60T helicopters from Air Station Borinquen
  • Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules aircraft from Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C.

Anyone with information on the possible whereabouts of the missing migrant is welcomed to contact the Coast Guard Sector San Juan Command Center at 787-289-2041.

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