MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Search efforts for a missing boater, who was last seen in Key West, was suspended Friday evening.
The Coast Guard, who received reports that Robert Garcia of Miami never returned after he left Key West City Marina on a fishing trip Saturday.
Garcia, who is in his early 40s, was supposed to return Saturday night, his wife told authorities.
Coast Guard has searched through the Florida Straits for any sign of Garcia or his boat, but the search is over as of Friday night.
According to our news partners, the Miami Herald, federal officials said Garcia was wanted for healthcare fraud charges in Miami.He had been charged with fraud under a sealed indictment earlier this year but it is not clear if Garcia might have known he was facing arrest. Under the circumstances, that information would have remained confidential, according to the paper.
While it is a big question as to if he is missing or may have left, his wife and officials are searching for him and the boat he was last seen on.
Coast Guard Petty Officer Mark Barney said Coast Guard Sector, Key West, received a report on Sunday from Garcia’s wife that he had left the Key West City Marina on Saturday morning and did not return as planned.
“He was supposed to return as planned Saturday night but he did not,” Barney told CBS4’S Peter D’Oench.
He said Garcia was aboard the Miss Juliette, a 28-foot white center console vessel with a white stripe.
He said a Coast Guard Air Station Miami HC-144 Ocean Sentry Aircraft crew and a Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater HC-130 Hercules aircraft crew have been actively searching.
He said the Coast Guard cutters Margaret Norvelle and Yellowfin have also conducted searches.
“Right now we are focusing on an area 15 to 20 miles south of Marathon,” he said. “If anyone can help, please call the Coast Guard or your local police department.”
He said anyone in the pubic who can help should call (305) 415-6800.
The Margaret Norvell is a 154-foot Fast Response Cutter in Miami.
The Yellowfin is an 87-foot patrol boat that is homeported in Charleston, South Carolina.
Barney said Garcia had not been seen since he left Key West.
He said unfortunately he did not file a float plan with his family.
“It’s important to file a float plan with your family or friends,” Barney said. “That way you can let them know where you are going and we will know where you are at all times.
That way, if you come up missing we will also have a time-frame on where you were last scene and that will really help the Coast Guard.”
“That could be a life saver?” asked D’Oench.
“Yes, definitely,” said Barney.
Barney said boaters should file a detailed float plan.
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