NORTH BEND, Ore — Crews from the U.S. Coast Guard were scouring an area off the coast of Florence on Saturday, searching for the one remaining crew member of a fishing boat that went down in the early hours of the morning. The search was suspended Sunday morning.
Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector North Bend received a mayday call around midnight from 68-year-old Mike Morgan, master of the white-and-black fishing vessel White Swan III.
The Coast Guard suspended search efforts at 12:30 a.m. on Sunday. Rescue crews searched approximately 232 square miles around where the vessel sank and was unable to locate Morgan.
Morgan reported that his boat was sinking in the north end of the Heceta Banks fishing area, the Coast Guard said. There was one other person aboard the ship, a female crew member.
Responding searchers in a MH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter spotted a debris field and a life raft. They found the female crew member floating face down in the water, unresponsive, about 30 nautical miles off the Florence coast Saturday morning. She was found near a debris field and life raft.
She was pronounced dead by local emergency crews.
After discovering the debris field, the helicopter crew had to return to base, citing heavy fog and low visibility.
In the intervening hours, other Coast Guard ships and helicopter crews responded. USCG said that the 87-foot cutter Orcas, another MH-65 Dolphin, and a 47-foot motor lifeboat were saturating a roughly 21 square-mile area.
“The decision to suspend an active search and rescue case is never easy, and it’s only made after careful consideration of myriad factors,” said Scott Giard, Coast Guard Search and Rescue program manager. “Our thoughts and condolences are with the families throughout this unimaginably challenging time.”
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