Missing boater identified, search continues after dark
FORT MYERS, Fla.- The U.S. Coast Guard is still searching for a missing boater Saturday night.
The man has now been identified as 48-year-old Jeffery Jon Reinhardt of Englewood, Florida. Reinhardt’s son reported him missing Friday night when he did not return as expected.
Search teams located Reinhardt’s boat around 4 a.m., just 12 miles off the coast of Naples, near Gordon’s Pass.
“That’s where the search originally started,” said Petty Officer Jesse Ameigh. “Right now, we’ve moved up north and are searching the areas on the Gulf and near Gasparilla.”
The 25-foot Contender was found adrift with one life jacket missing. Its keys were in the ignition, and it was on full throttle, but with an empty fuel tank.
The Coast Guard says they will continue their search for now, but do not have a timeline of when they will stop searching. Officials say weather conditions have been favored their search, and they hope the missing life jacket is a sign Reinhardt has it on him. Officer Ameigh says that fact alone could save his life.
“It’s probably the number one thing that you wanna have if you fall in the water.”
Several agencies, including Florida Fish and Wildlife officials, and the Lee and Collier County marine units are assisting the Coast Guard in the search.
Two USCG helicopters and a C-130 search and rescue plane are actively searching a 25 by 30 square nautical mile area. The Coast Guard says search conditions are very favorable and the boater filled up with fuel at Stump Pass Marina Friday morning.
Some local boaters tell WINK News, Friday’s weather may have played a part in this Reinhardt’s disappearance at sea.
A small craft advisory was issued Friday afternoon, with winds speeds between 25 and 20 knots. One boater says he was not allowed to rent a boat, because of the danger on the waters at that time.”
“He could have got carried out without any choice with the winds and what not. I don’t know, water could have came over the boat, who knows what happened.”
Count on WINK News to update this story as new information becomes available.