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Coast Guard: Search suspended for man who fell off boat in Great South Bay

Rescuers search for a man who, an officer

Rescuers search for a man who, an officer said, was not wearing a life jacket and fell off a small boat near Heckscher State Park late Monday night. Credit: Stringer News Service

The search has been suspended for a man who fell overboard Monday night in the Great South Bay, leaving his two female companions stranded in a 34-foot boat, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

The missing man, who went into the water off Heckscher State Park without a life jacket, is believed to be a strong swimmer, Ensign Collin Reichelt said by telephone Tuesday morning. The boater was wearing a blue shirt and blue shorts.

Suffolk County police identified the man as Samuel Gutierrez, 47, of East Islip. 

“Suspending a search for missing or overdue boaters is never an easy decision to make,” said Capt. Kevin Reed, commander Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound. “We search for every person as if we are searching for one of our own and my heart is with the friends and families who have been impacted by this unfortunate circumstance.”

The search spanned 234-square miles and included personnel and equipment from at least six Coast Guard stations along with help from agencies on Long Island including Suffolk County’s marine bureau, Suffolk County Fire Rescue Emergency Services and the Great River Fire Department, officials said.

The search is suspended “pending the development of new information,” officials said.

The Fountain powerboat came ashore at the state park with the two women on board, said Capt. Joe Haskell of Sea Tow, a boat-towing company. He towed the craft to the county's marine police headquarters at nearby Timber Point Marina that night, and on Tuesday morning dispatched two Sea Tow boats to help search. 

Though the two passengers appeared unharmed, "I would say they were scared, worried and in shock," Haskell said. "I don't think the other people on board really were quite able to operate the boat."

Fountain powerboats are powerful enough to be used in races. Haskell estimated the waves were about 2 to 3 feet high during the night, and the winds variable. 


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