The U.S. Coast Guard is currently searching for two men who
went missing around 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 14, during a day charter near St.
Pete Beach, Florida, aboard 71-foot M/Y Jaguar.
They’ve been identified by the
local news as 27-year-old crewmember Andrew Dillman and 21-year-old Jie
Luo, a Colorado State University student who chartered the boat with 14 other
passengers during spring break.
The Pinellas County Sheriff told ABC
News that the captain anchored the boat because the water was too rough to
venture out. Five students were reportedly swimming near the boat, but only
four of them were able to swim back. After noticing that Luo was struggling,
Dillman jumped into the water to help him when a fast-moving current caught
them, preventing them from reaching the boat. Deputies reported that neither of
the men was wearing flotation devices and they were last seen being pulled into
the Gulf of Mexico. Around the time of the incident, sustained winds may have
reached 20-25 miles per hour, according to meteorologists.
The ongoing search, both air and sea, is around the
Pass-a-Grille Channel. As of earlier this afternoon, the Coast Guard and other
agencies have conducted 22 searches over 419 square miles. The sheriff told ABC
News it’s still possible both men are alive.
UPDATE, 3/17: The USCG reports that they have called off their search, but the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation and Sheriff’s office are reportedly still searching.