As Winter Storm Saturn churns waters along the Eastern seaboard, the Coast Guard suspended the search overnight for two missing boaters off Assateague Island, Virginia.
Due to the low visibility from clouds, rainfall and on scene winds of 50 to 60 mph, the Coast Guard suspended the search until sunrise Thursday.
Coast Guard 5th District watchstanders initially received an emergency position indicating radio beacon alert from the 67-foot fishing vessel Seafarer at 10:39 a.m.
Watchstanders contacted the vessel's owner, who believed the Seafarer had become disabled and the vessel's sister ship started towing the Seafarer. It was reported that the ship lost the tow and sight of the Seafarer when weather conditions worsened.
“We don’t know if it sunk or is adrift,” said David Weydert, a petty officer third class in the U.S. Coast Guard’s 5th District.
A third man from the boat was on a life raft in 12-foot waves, heavy rain and winds gusting to 50 mph when a Coast Guard helicopter reached him about 15 miles east of Assateague.
Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City launched a Jayhawk crew to the Seafarers reported position. Once on scene, the aircrew rescued a man from a life raft and took him to Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury, Md. Afterwards, the Jayhawk crew continued their search for the two missing men.
A 47-foot Motor Life Boat crew from Coast Guard Station Chincoteague also searched the area.
When the search resumes Thursday, rescuers can expect gale-force wind gusts up to about 50 mph and waves of about 14 or 15 feet, said Dan Prouch, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Wakefield, Va.
About the time of the Seafarer mishap, the waves off Assateague had swelled to great heights as a massive storm reached the mid-Atlantic states.
“There was a gale warning this morning — when winds are over 40 mph,” he said.
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