Coast Guard searching for missing man

Posted at 11:05 AM, May 21, 2016

The U.S. Coast Guard is searching for a missing boater near Cedar Key after rescuing two men from a 23-foot boat early Saturday.

Missing is a 54-year-old man from Elders Bird, Maryland.

The Coast Guard rescued two other men, Garrick Valdes, 50, of Locust Grove, Va, and Bruce Smith of Alachua, which is near Gainesville, were rescued shortly before 7:30 a.m. Saturday.

At 10:05 p.m., Friday, watchstanders from Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg received a report stating the three men had left Alachua at 5:30 a.m. Friday in a truck hauling a trailer. The trio had not returned. 

About 3 a.m. Saturday officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission told the Coast Guard the truck and trailer had been found at the Cedar Key boat ramp. 

An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter rescue aircrew from Air Station Clearwater and a 27-foot Utility Boat-Medium from Station Yankeetown were launched to begin the search.

The Jayhawk rescue crew spotted Valdes and Smith sitting on their capsized boat six miles south of Sea Horse Key about 7:35 a.m. Saturday. The men were hoisted and flown to the Cedar Key airport, where they were evaluated by paramedics. 

Coast Guard crews continue to search for the missing man, who authorities said was reported to be wearing a life jacket.

FWC and Cedar Key Fire and Rescue are aiding in the search.