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Coast Guard suspends expansive search for missing sailor

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    An expansive 24-day search for a missing 71-year-old sailor has been suspended.

The Coast Guard on Thursday suspended an expansive 24-day search for a missing 71-year-old sailor last reported 1,800 miles southeast of Hilo.

Various agencies and private commercial vessels searched a total of more than 59,598 square miles, an area the size of Okalahoma, officials said.

Richard Carr of California was reportedly a couple of weeks into his solo voyage aboard a 36-foot sailboat “Celebration” from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, to Hiva Oa, Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia, the Coast Guard said.

Carr last communicated with his wife using a GPS device that he was in distress, the Coast Guard said in a news release. A Coast Guard spokeswoman said she did not have information when Carr contacted his wife.

His wife forwarded the message to the Coast Guard 11th District in the Southern Pacific, and on May 28 watchstanders notified the Coast Guard in Honolulu. She also told the Coast Guard that, based on their conversation, she strongly suspected her husband was severely sleep deprived.

The Coast Guard, a French Falcon Guardian airplane from Tahiti and three commercial vessels (two of which used helicopters), conducted a total of 17 searches in the region. Search and rescue personnel from Rescue Coordination Centers in Tahiti and China helped with communications and planning.

Fishing fleets from several Pacific nations also helped by making callouts in their areas, with no response from the missing man.

The Coast Guard launched an HC-130 Hercules plane from Air Station Barbers Point and sent out an alert to vessel crews in the area to keep a lookout for the Celebration.

A French Falcon Guardian airplane was also launched from Tahiti.

The “Enterprise,” a 258-foot American fishing vessel, “El Duque,” a 259-foot Mexican-flagged fishing vessel, and “Hokuetsu Ibis,” a Panamanian-flagged cargo ship also assisted in the search.

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