BY SAMANTHA SMITH AND ALEX DYER
MANASQUAN — Authorities believe that the missing victim of Thursday night’s boat accident in Manasquan Inlet may have become trapped in a portion of the sunken hull, Mayor Edward Donovan said Friday.
“The divers, where they suspect part of the hull is, will not be able to go into the water probably until at least tomorrow, probably more likely Sunday, late, because of the turbulence and the danger to the divers, ” the mayor said.
“We will do whatever we can and get it ended as soon as we possibly can, so they can get some closure, one way or another, find their missing relative.”
The missing man, along with his father and brother, were the only persons aboard the craft when it was capsized by a large wave Thursday night, a Manasquan police spokesman has confirmed. The father and brother were pulled from the water by rescuers and transported to a hospital.
Manasquan Police Detective Lt. Nick Norcia, the Department’s Public Information Officer, also told The Coast Star that further search efforts have been hindered due to the rough surf caused by Hurricane Lee off the coast.
“I believe the state police and The Coast Guard are going to remain on scene for the remainder of the evening until the sun goes down and then resume again tomorrow,” said Lt. Norcia. “We’re still stuck in that spot right here where it’s considered a search at this point … We’re merely just assisting the state police, also in assistance with The Coast Guard.”
According to Mayor Donovan, a grid search of the two jetties was conducted during the day on Friday, with multiple agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard and New Jersey State Police joined by local police, fire and rescue personel.
A Coast Guard spokesperson, Petty Officer Kimberly Reaves also described the search Friday and said that “along with the other assets that were already searching, we have a C-130 that’s out there now from Air Station Elizabeth City.”
According to a statement issued by spokesperson Sgt. Charles Marchan, New Jersey State Police troopers were dispatched to the accident scene at 8:25 p.m. Thursday. “Based on a preliminary investigation the vessel was overtaken by large seas causing the occupants to be ejected into the water,” he said. “Once troopers arrived on scene two of the three occupants were already rescued…”
An earlier Friday statement issued by the Coast Guard said that responders were also recovering debris from the accident, adding: “We kindly ask the boating public to please give the rescue crews the time and space we need to complete this mission.”
Mayor Edward Donovan said Thursday night that the craft: “appeared to have been a sports fishing boat,” and added that with “heavy surf coming into the inlet, the boat either was capsized by a wave or crashed in the jetty on the south side of the inlet.”
Assisting in the search was a Coast Guard helicopter, New Jersey State Police, Manasquan police, fire and first aid personnel, as well as the Sea Girt Police Department and Brielle Fire Department and the Smart Team, consisting of lifeguards from several Monmouth County towns who respond to emergencies.
In a Friday afternoon post to his Facebook page, Point Pleasant Beach Mayor Paul Kanitra said that he had watched the rescue efforts unfold, saying, “My wife and I watched firsthand at the inlet last night the numerous volunteers from all over Ocean and Monmouth counties trying to assist in this very difficult situation. We continue to pray that things end with a positive development.”
For more on this story, read the next edition of The Coast Star—on newsstands Thursday or online in our e-Edition.