Crewmembers from Coast Guard Air Station in Clearwater lift Nick Schuyler, 24, into a helicopter after he was rescued from overturned vessel about 35 miles west of Tampa Bay.
Photo Courtesy of USFNation.com
Reports say Nick Schuyer, 24, is now at Tampa General Hospital after being rescued on Monday by the U.S. Coast Guard in waters off Tampa Bay.
GULF OF MEXICO - The U.S. Coast Guard confirmed Monday afternoon that one of four missing boaters has been rescued.
Crewmembers from Coast Guard Air Station in Clearwater and the Coast Guard Cutter Tornado rescued Nick Schuyler, 24, from an overturned vessel about 35 miles west of Tampa Bay, according to a press release.
Schuyer was taken to Tampa General Hospital where he is listed in stable but serious condition.
The other missing boaters include two NFL players: Victor "Marquis" Cooper, 26, and Corey Smith, 29, and William Bleakley, 25. Bleakley and Schuyer are former football players for the University of South Florida.
The search for the boaters began Sunday after watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg received a call at about 1:30 a.m., reporting that four friends did not return from their fishing trip as expected.
Conditions in the Gulf of Mexico reportedly hampered search efforts on Sunday as a Coast Guard 47-foot motor-life boat crew from Station Sand Key; HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and C-130 Hercules fixed-wing aircrews from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater; and the Coast Guard Cutter Crocodile searched a 750-square mile area west of Clearwater Pass throughout the day.
Crews from Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi joined the U.S. Coast Guard, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office as the search expanded on Monday to a combined area of more than 16,000 square miles, according to the information from the U.S. Coast Guard.
Monday’s search included two Coast Guard C-130 Hercules fixed-wing aircrews from Air Station Clearwater; two HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crews from Air Station Clearwater; one HC-144 Ocean Sentry fixed-wing aircrew from Air Training Center Mobile, Ala.; one Air Force C-130 fixed-wing aircrew from Moody Air Force Base, Ga.; crew of the 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Crocodile, homeported in St. Petersburg; crew of the 110-foot Coast Guard Cutter Nantucket, homeported in St. Petersburg; crew of the 179-foot Coast Guard Cutter Tornado, homeported in Pascagoula, Miss.; and a crew of a 47-foot motor life boat from Station Sand Key.
The Coast Guard was reporting 15- to 20-knot winds and 6- to 9-foot seas in the search area.
The four boaters left at about 6:30 a.m., Saturday, from the Seminole Boat Ramp in Clearwater Pass, in a 21-foot center console boat, according to a press release from the Coast Guard.
AccuWeather.com reports weather conditions may have been a contributing factor in the disappearance of a fishing boat.
AccuWeather said buoy reports off the Florida west coast showed winds Saturday were in the 15- to 25-knot range and waves on that portion of the Gulf of Mexico were 2 to 4 feet. Radar Saturday afternoon showed most of the thunderstorm activity well to the north of the area where the men were fishing.
Late Saturday night and Sunday, wind and waves increased with wave heights running close to 14 feet ahead of a cold front that passed through the area.
Cooper is a linebacker for the Oakland Raiders and Smith, now a free agent, played defensive end for the Detroit Lions, according to their NFL profiles. The two are former Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Cooper was drafted by the Bucs in 2004. Smith was originally signed by the Bucs in 2002.
Bleakley lettered in 2004, 2005 and 2006 as a tight end for USF. Schuyler was a walk-on defensive end in 2006 but did not letter, according to a press release from the University of South Florida.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Will and Nick, as well as the Florida Coast Guard as they continue their search,” USF Director of Athletics Doug Woolard said late Sunday afternoon.
Anyone with information that can help locate the other missing boaters is asked to call Sector St. Petersburg at 727-824-7506 or by marine VHF radio channel 16.