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Coast Guard suspends search for man missing at sea


The Coast Guard has suspended the search for a missing British mariner who fell overboard from a 38-foot sailing vessel in the North Pacific early Sunday.

The Coast Guard and U.S. Navy crews searched approximately 2,340 square miles in a search area 575 miles west of Midway Atoll for Luke Stinson of the United Kingdom before suspending operations Tuesday.

Stinson reportedly was conscious  and wearing a yellow lifejacket with a light beacon when he fell into the water almost 500 miles from land. The second crew member, Laura Vernon, incorrectly identified previously as Laura Beinon, did not have enough sailing experience to safely navigate the vessel alone, the Coast Guard reported.

The 38-foot sailing vessel Jonetsu was about 2,000 miles west of Oahu and 500 miles west of the Midway Atoll at the time.

Two Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules airplane crews from Air Station Barbers Point alternated searches from Midway Atoll and Wake Island throughout Sunday and Monday. During Sunday night, two Navy MH-60 helicopters and two CH-46 helicopters conducted six more searches of the area.

One MH-60 helicopter located the Jonetsu and conducted a basket hoist to remove Vernon and return her safely to the Navy warship Peleliu with no reported injuries. The Peleliu, a Tarawa-class amphibious assault ship, was diverted from its homeward bound transit to assist in the search. Peleliu deployed two MH-60 helicopters at approximately 5 a.m. Sunday to conduct search patterns. 

Meanwhile, the sailboat is on its own on the ocean because the warship has no way to secure it. Navy crew members put a tracking device on the sailboat and turned on its navigation lights.

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