FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. - The Coast Guard and local law enforcement agencies are searching for a boater off Gasparilla Island, Wednesday.
Coast Guard watchstanders at Sector St. Petersburg received a report from a good Samaritan at 3:45 a.m., Wednesday, saying he had witnessed a man sitting atop a capsized vessel, flashing a light in what may have been an S.O.S. signal.
John Neely, of Port Charlotte, Fla., reported he was fishing from the beach on the southern tip of Gasparilla Island, when he saw a person sitting atop a small, capsized, white boat, approximately 300 yards from shore. Neely said he signaled the capsized boater with a flashlight, and eight to 10 minutes later saw a small flashing light that may have been signaling back.
Coast Guard search crews, including a 33-foot Special Purpose Craft-Law Enforcement boat crew from Station Fort Myers Beach, and an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Clearwater launched and began searching the area, along with marine emergency response crews from Charlotte County Sheriff's Department, Lee County Sheriff, Pine Island Fire Rescue, Cape Coral Police Department, and the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.