Watch CBS News

Missing Navy sailor Seamus Gray last seen Saturday near bar in Waukegan

Waukegan police provide update on search for missing Navy sailor
Waukegan police provide update on search for missing Navy sailor 09:14

WAUKEGAN, Ill. (CBS) – Waukegan police and the U.S. Navy are continuing their investigation into the disappearance of a 21-year-old sailor assigned to Naval Station Great Lakes, who hasn't been seen or heard from since the early morning hours on Saturday.

Waukegan Police Cmdr. Scott Chastain said Seamus Gray was last seen on Saturday at a bar near Waukegan Harbor.

Waukegan police, North Chicago police and firefighters, the Office of Naval Intelligence, and about 100 Navy personnel spent more than two hours Friday searching along the lakefront between Waukegan and Naval Station Great Lakes, while the U.S. Coast Guard searched Lake Michigan. After the search turned up empty, Chastain said the search was called off.

"After extensive search, exhausting all our efforts, we made it all the way back to the base, and we were unable to locate him at this time," Chastain said. "Right now, we're ending our search effort, we've hit everything we could on the ground, we had drones in the air, we had a K-9 out, we had again the boat in the water, and we've searched every area we can search at this time."

Seamus Gray
Seamus Gray, a 21-year-old U.S. Navy sailor, is missing after he was last seen in Waukegan, Illinois, on March 18, 2023 Waukegan Police

Chastain said Waukegan police, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and the U.S. Navy will continue investigating, including interviews with anyone who might have been in touch with Gray just before he went missing.

If investigators develop any new leads on Gray's whereabouts, they will begin a new search.

Chastain said police are not yet assuming Gray has died, saying all they know is that he's missing. He said, if Gray did end up drowning in Lake Michigan, with the cold temperatures, his body would stay under water longer than normal, and it might be days or weeks before a body would resurface.

 Waukegan police Deputy Chief Brian Mullen said Thursday that teams have spent days searching for Gray.

"With the advances in technology and all the drones that we had up in the air and the lack of foliage up in the air this time of year, we had a really nice ability to see - to cover the ground yesterday and re-cover the ground today," he said.

Gray's mother continued to hold out hope that her son will be found.

"We've never not in contact," Kerry Gray said Thursday. "The only time I've ever not heard from my son was when he was in bootcamp. We talked 10 times a day - whether it's silly memes, whether it's just texting."

Mother holds out hope for U.S. Navy sailor missing since Saturday 02:17

Now, nearly a week has gone by since Gray's mother or anyone else has heard from the 21-year-old.

Police and family said Gray left Naval Station Great Lakes on Friday night and headed down to Waukegan for a night of St. Patrick's Day celebrations. 

"He sent me pictures. We were on FaceTime," Gray said. "While I was out for St. Patrick's Day, he was out."

Detectives found video surveillance footage of Gray leaving Ibiza Bar on Genesee Street in Waukegan. 

The manager of the bar told CBS 2 Gray was intoxicated there.    

The video shows him leaving the bar alone through a back alley in a pink outfit, and he was later seen at the intersection of Sheridan Road and Washington Street around 1:40 a.m. on Saturday and has not been seen or spoken to since leaving the bar.

Search continues for missing sailor last seen at Waukegan bar 02:12

Mullen said it is believed that Gray was due back at his base at 2 a.m. But of course, the Navy sailor never returned to the Naval Base Great Lakes.

Waukegan police and fire personnel have done an extensive search of the area, including the lakefront. Gray's mother also searched with police near Ibiza Bar and along Lake Michigan.

Video taken from nearby marinas later showed Gray right on the water's edge on the lake, Mullen said Thursday afternoon.

Mullen said police are no longer seeing any activity from Gray's cell phone, which last pinged near the lake. But police and his family are holding out hope. 

"We know he's in excellent shape, and we're very hopeful that he could be out there someplace," Mullen said.

Member of U.S. Navy missing from Naval Station Great Lakes 02:22

Gray's mother flew into town to help find her son. Investigators in Waukegan are calling the case a missing persons case, which also involves the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, or NCIS.

But Kerry Gray added there is also video from when someone tried to pickpocket her son, and then there was an altercation with a group of people. The bar manager corroborated the story about the 21-year-old getting into an altercation over his wallet.

"We're investigating that," Mullen said. "We're aware of the video outside of the bar - and our investigators are working with NCIS to help identify people who might be on that video."

Gray's mother said over the phone that she fears the worst for her son – especially with so many days passing – and given the fact that he has not checked into the naval base and no one has heard from him.

"I'd like anybody who us any information about my son Seamus to please come forward," said Kerry Gray. "That's my boy. That's my guy. His little brother is 14. He is my son's role model. He's my life. So please help find Seamus."

Gray's family spent the day Wednesday and Thursday searching for him, in hopes of finding him – or clues into his disappearance. After their extensive search by air and foot on Thursday, teams will again focus on the lake on Friday.

Gray's mother refuses to give up hope.

"He came here to fight for his country, and now he's missing - and I'd like everybody's help to find my son," said Kerry Gray.

On behalf of the Ibiza Bar, lawyer Robert Ritacca said their hearts go out to the Gray family. 

"This is one of those situations that's heavy on everybody's heart. Ibiza is doing everything they can to cooperate," Ritacca said. "There's camera here. We've given those recordings to Waukegan."

Gray is described by police as being 6-foot-3, around 170 pounds with blue eyes and brown hair. He has multiple tattoos on his left arm and a script tattoo on his ribcage.

Waukegan police are looking for a 21-year-old member of the U.S. Navy who hasn't been seen or heard from since the early morning hours on Saturday. Seamus Gray, who was assigned to Naval Station Great Lakes, did not report back at his assigned time, according to Waukegan police. Provided to CBS

He was last seen wearing a light pink or red long sleeve shirt and pants.

Matt Mogle, public affairs officer for the Surface Warfare Engineering School Command Great Lakes, issued this statement on behalf of the naval base:

"The Navy is aware that the Waukegan Police Department is conducting an investigation in an attempt to locate Fireman Recruit Seamus Gray, an active-duty service member assigned to Surface Warfare Engineering School Command Great Lakes. He was reported missing on March 21, 2023. The Great Lakes Naval Criminal Investigative Service office is assisting with the investigation.. Please direct all additional questions to the Waukegan Police Department. The Navy will continue to work with all law enforcement agencies involved in the case. Our thoughts are with Fireman Recruit Gray's family during this difficult time."

Anyone with information is asked to submit a tip on the Waukegan Police Department app. Tips can also be submitted by calling the Waukegan police tip line at (847) 360-9001 or by testing he keyword "WPDTIP" and their tip to 847411. Anonymous tips can be submitted via the department's website at

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.