Family of missing boater, Palmetto High School teacher Patrick Mullins, hangs on to hope

BRADENTON, Fla - Pat and Jill Mullins will be married for 30 years this June.

They have two boys, one in college and the other in Afghanistan.

Everything seemed fine until Sunday when Pat Mullins, a teacher at Palmetto High School, didn't return home from a boating excursion.

"He's very familiar with the Bradenton River and water, so we are very concerned," said Jodi John, Mullins sister-in-law.

She said her brother-in-law's 16-foot boat was found near Egmont Key at the mouth of  Tampa Bay.  Mullins, 51, was not on board, but another missing item gave the family hope.

"We think there were also some life jackets missing from the boat, so he may be in the gulf with a life jacket," said John.

Rescue crews said this is still an active search.

"The Coast Guard's ultimate goal is to bring Mr. Mullins home safely," said Petty Officer First Class Crystalynn Kneen.

According to the Coast Guard, there are many factors to hope for a positive outcome.

"The temperature of water, the age of person, the health of the person, how long they have been in the water," explained Petty Officer Kneen.

Mullins' boat  was found with the engine running and the emergency whistle untouched.

Crews searched all night.  On Tuesday, they focused on a body of water three times the size of Pinellas County.

John said Mullins' wife and sons refuse to think the worst.

"Oh yes, we are all hoping he is going to be one of those miracle situations with his life jacket and on an island.  We are hoping authorities will find him soon," said Mullins.

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