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Coast Guard still searching for missing fisherman off North Shore; 3 bodies recovered

Coast Guard searching for missing fisherman off Hampton, NH
Coast Guard searching for missing fisherman off Hampton, NH 01:35

UPDATE: The Coast Guard has suspended the search for the fourth fisherman. 

ROCKPORT - Coast Guard crews recovered the bodies of three of four missing boaters off the coast of Rockport Thursday evening. The search for the fourth person is ongoing and continued through the night. 

In the distance, a search vessel and helicopter could be seen. Paul Norris stepped outside of his Rockport home and pulled out binoculars. "I think when people aren't careful and don't respect the ocean, it can be pretty scary at times," he said.

Coast Guard officials say they got a call from the family of the boat's owner, Michael Sai, saying he had never returned from a fishing trip with three friends in a white 17-foot center console boat. They had left Wednesday morning from Hampton Harbor, New Hampshire, and relatives said they often fish near Jeffries Ledge about 50 miles from shore. A Coast Guard search crew found the boat overturned about 8 miles from Cape Ann, Massachusetts.

"So we're going to now concentrate our search efforts with the air and surface assets, looking for either debris from the vessel that overturned, or people from the vessel that overturned," said U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Amy Florentino.

She said search conditions have been optimal with clear skies and calm seas, but there are always risks associated with cold water boating this time of year. 

"You never know, with a short amount of wind the seas can kick up pretty quickly, especially around the areas where there's large changes in depth, so around some of those fishing ledges...people could run into seas that might be larger than usual," said Florentino. She said the water where the vessel and boaters were found is 44 degrees.

Several fishermen in New Hampshire had seen the men getting ready to launch on Wednesday morning. "It was rough yesterday morning when we went out, and that boat didn't belong," said fisherman Tyler Leroux.

They say the conditions were tough and they all questioned why someone would take such a small boat out. "Me, and everybody were saying 'he ain't going out there in that thing right now,'" Leroux said. "And then we went out, came back, the truck was here. Then this morning, came back, truck was still here, and I said boy that ain't good." 

The Coast Guard is reminding boaters to give a float plan to a friend or relative before going out to sea, and to pack a marine radio and float devices. 

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