The Coast Guard announced Thursday night it is suspending its search for a college student and charter mate who went missing from a yacht.
The Coast Guard suspended its search at 7:41 p.m. Thursday. Crews had previously been searching the area near Pass-a-Grille Channel for the two men.
Andrew Dillman, 27, from New York, and Jie Luo, 21, of China, went missing from a 71-foot yacht Tuesday night.
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The charter yacht had 15 students on board Tuesday when it anchored at Shell Key. Luo and four other students jumped off the boat to swim, and the current pulled them away from the boat.
Luo was the only student who did not return to the yacht, and Dillman jumped in to rescue him. In his efforts, Dillman also was swept away from the boat.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Jie Luo and Andrew Dillman,” said Capt. Holly Najarian, Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg commander, in a news release. “Suspending a search is the most difficult decision I have to make in my position, and despite our best efforts, we were unable to reunite Andrew and Jie with their families.”
Crews from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Coast Guard Station St. Petersburg, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission conducted 39 searches, according to the Coast Guard. The search included 80 aircraft and surface hours and covered more than 1,500 square miles.
Bay News 9 reports alcohol was aboard the vessel, along with several empty bottles.