Coast Guard Suspends Search for Four Missing Fishermen Off Florida Gulf Coast - The World News

Coast Guard Suspends Search for Four Missing Fishermen Off Florida Gulf Coast

The United States Coast Guard has called off a search for four missing boaters who set out Saturday morning for a day of fishing off Florida’s Gulf Coast and never returned home.

The fishermen, Angel Hernandez Munoz, 38; Ruben Mora Sr., 54; Julio Cesar Cordero Briones, 37; and Alfonso Vargas Parra, 35, left for a boating trip from Venice, Fla., about 20 miles south of Sarasota, at 8 a.m. on Saturday, according to a news release from the Venice Police Department.

The water was “not too rough” that morning, Capt. Andy Leisenring of the Venice Police Department said at a news conference on Monday. By the afternoon, however, weather conditions had deteriorated, with heavy fog settling over the area, he said.

“Going into overnight and into Sunday, the winds picked up, the seas picked up, of course it’s been raining most of that time,” Captain Leisenring said, noting that weather conditions remained rough on Monday. “It’s not very safe to be out there for a small vessel,” he said.

The men set out aboard a 1995 23-foot white SportCraft boat, according to a news release from the Police Department. It was unclear what safety and emergency equipment, if any, were on board.

Captain Leisenring said the authorities had been told that the men were experienced fishermen, but they did not leave behind a float plan, a detailed overview of a boat excursion.

“They did not tell the family members exactly where they were going, and so that does hinder our search efforts a little bit,” he said. “We have to estimate a starting point and adjust from there for the search.”

By Sunday, the U.S. Coast Guard and multiple local law enforcement agencies had pooled their resources to search for the men by sea and air. As of Monday, the search had covered over 4,600 square miles in the Gulf of Mexico, the Police Department said.

The U.S. Coast Guard said on social media late Monday, less than 48 hours after the investigation began, that it was suspending its search for the men, pending new information.

The U.S. Coast Guard and a Venice Police Department detective on the case did not respond to requests for further information on the decision on Tuesday.

Ruben Mora Jr., Mr. Mora’s son, said in a news conference on Monday that he had planned to meet his father, who has diabetes and high blood pressure, after fishing on Saturday but did not hear from him.

“My dad lives for the water; he lives for the ocean,” Ruben Mora Jr. said. “We’re just trying to bring him home as quick as possible. I can’t imagine what he’s going through or what his friends are going through. I just want him back here.”

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