Saturday, June 15, 2024

Navy suspends search for missing US sailors after no leads

The Mexican Navy has suspended its search for three United States citizens who went missing after leaving Mazatlán, Sinaloa, on a sailing vessel in early April, U.S. authorities said Wednesday.  

The United States Coast Guard said in a statement that the search was suspended “pending further developments” after the navy and its personnel “conducted 281 cumulative search hours covering approximately 200,057 square nautical miles … off Mexico’s northern Pacific coast with no sign of the missing sailing vessel nor its passengers.”

The Coast Guard noted that the area searched is larger than the state of California. 

Kerry O’Brien, Frank O’Brien and William Gross left Mazatlán on a 44-foot Lafitte sailboat named Ocean Bound on April 4, according to a statement issued by the Coast Guard last Friday. 

The missing group’s final intended destination was San Diego, California, but they planned to stop in Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, on April 6 to pick up provisions and to report in, the Coast Guard said.

“However, they did not report in or arrive in Cabo San Lucas,” the Coast Guard said Wednesday.   

William Gross’ daughter Melissa Spicuzza’s interview with NBC News in San Diego.


“Search and rescue coordinators contacted marinas throughout Baja, Mexico, which resulted in no sightings of the vessel. Urgent marine information broadcasts were also issued over VHF radio but yielded no additional information.” 

Gross’ daughter Melissa Spicuzza told NBC News in San Diego Wednesday that a person in Mazatlán who was a friend of the O’Briens had called her on Sunday to inform her that the boat had been found, but when she contacted the U.S. Coast Guard, she said, they told her that the boat in question was not the Ocean Bound.

Spicuzza also told NBC News that her father had been contacted by the O’Briens through the sailing community when they had put out a call looking for help in bringing their boat from Mazatlán to San Diego — their planned ultimate destination.

It was Gross’ first sailing trip up the Baja Peninsula coast, Spicuzza said.

Spicuzza also told the news outlet that her father had told her before leaving Mazatlán that the Ocean Bound lacked tracking and communications technology and needed hand steering. 

“My dad’s exact words were, ‘I wouldn’t cross an ocean in it,’” Spicuzza said, “‘but it’ll do for what we’re doing.’”

Commander Gregory Higgins, a Coast Guard command center chief, said that the Mexican Navy conducted “an exhaustive search” and that the U.S. and Canada provided “additional search assets.” 

Mexican Navy and U.S. Coast Guard assets, including vessels and aircraft, “worked hand-in-hand for all aspects of the case,” Higgins said.

“Unfortunately, we found no evidence of the three Americans’ whereabouts or what might have happened. Our deepest sympathies go out to the families and friends of William Gross, Kerry O’Brien and Frank O’Brien,” he said. 

Mexico News Daily

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