Nick Schuyler, 24, is wearing his lifejacket as he sits on top of the over-turned 21-foot boat about noon Monday. He was found by search crews about 39 miles west of Egmont Key.
Photo by COAST GUARD FIREMAN ADAM CAMPBELL
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.
CLEARWATER - Coast Guard officials say the search is continuing for three of four boaters who have been missing since early Sunday morning.
Searchers from as far away as Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi joined Coast Guard crews from Clearwater and St. Petersburg on Monday in an effort to cover an expanded area of more than 16,000 square miles.
The Coast Guard reported 15- to 20-knot winds and 6- to 9-foot seas in the search area.
Two NFL players, Victor "Marquis" Cooper, 26, and Corey Smith, 29; and two former football players for the University of South Florida, William Bleakley, 25, and Nick Schuyler, 24, were reported missing about 1:30 a.m. on Sunday, March 1, after they did not return from a fishing trip.
According to the Coast Guard, the men left the Seminole Boat Ramp in Clearwater Pass around 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 28, in a 21-foot center-console boat.
At about noon Monday, the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Tornado located Schuyler about 39 miles west of Egmont Key, sitting on top of the over-turned 21-foot boat with a life-jacket on. Click here to view a video of the rescue.
Schuyer was taken to Tampa General Hospital where he is listed in stable but serious condition.
"We were able to receive information from Schuyler that helped us adjust our search planning and we intend to continue searching for the three missing boaters, Capt. Timothy M. Close, Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg Commander, said Monday night.
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.
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.
A small craft advisory in effect for waters offshore Pinellas County on Sunday expired at 9 p.m. on Monday.
The Coast Guard said it is continuing the search in a combined area of more than 2,000 square miles, using one Coast Guard C-130 Hercules fixed-wing aircrew from Air Station Clearwater; the crew of the 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Crocodile, homeported in St. Petersburg; the crew of the 110-foot Coast Guard Cutter Nantucket, homeported in St. Petersburg; and the crew of the 179-foot Coast Guard Cutter Tornado, homeported in Pascagoula, Miss.
The search attracted national attention after it was reported that two of the four were NFL players and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
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. 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.
“After receiving the good news about Nick, our emotions have been tempered by the fact that three individuals are yet to be rescued. We continue to pray for everyone involved, especially the families, and wish speed and safety to the Florida Coast Guard and local authorities that continue the search,” USF Director of Athletics Doug Woolard said Monday night.
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.