Maritime Matter of the Week

Coast Guard Calls Off Search For Missing Florida Boater


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Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. is comprised of attorneys that are nationally-recognized industry leaders in the field of maritime and admiralty law. Our team of lawyers has over a century of combined experience, has successfully handled over 3,000 cases, and has recovered over 300 million dollars in damages for our clients.

Maritime disappearances occur more frequently than anyone would like to imagine. Although sometimes these incidents are the result of an accidental slip and fall, there are times in which they result from someone else’s negligence, in which case surviving victims or the loved ones of the deceased have a right to file a case with the help of a maritime accident attorney.

Last Sunday, a Bradenton, FL man went missing after going out boating on Sunday, but U.S. Coast Guard officials have called off the search.

The victim, Patrick Mullins, 52, was a media specialist for Palmetto High. According to his family, Mullins never returned home on Sunday after he went on a boating outing that was intended to be a “quick spin” around 4 p.m.

Mullins’ 14-foot vessel was discovered floating near Egmont Key on Monday. A member of the Tampa Bay Pilots Association contacted the Coast Guard in St. Petersburg shortly after to report the adrift boat, which was determined to have belonged to Mullins.

The search was called off just before 9 p.m. on Tuesday, said U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman Crystalynn Kneen, pending further developments. The Coast Guard searched 2,200 square miles for a total of 66 hours looking for Mullins, but according to Kneen, “a decision had to be made.”

Police officials are still investigating the missing person case, but do not suspect foul play. The incident is believed to be either an accident or the result of a medical condition. The sheriff’s office explained that Mullins had not acted in any way out of the ordinary on Sunday before leaving on his boat trip.

Detectives discovered a sales receipt for a purchase made by Mullins on Sunday at a store on State Road 64 for items that were intended to be used on the boat. However, authorities are still trying to piece together what could have happened at sea.

“We accounted for his time and made sure that the time line was right up until he took off on the boat,” said Dave Bristow, sheriff’s office spokesman. “The most important time line, we haven’t been able to establish, and that is what happened when he got into the boat.”

Detectives will be analyzing surveillance footage from Palmetto’s Regatta Pointe Marina and Manatee Memorial Hospital in Bradenton from cameras aimed at the river to help determine the cause of the maritime disappearance.

“We were and still are looking for someone who may have seen him in the boat or just the boat late Sunday afternoon,” added Bristow.

There are times in which victims who disappear at sea are rescued, but there are also times in which the bodies of the boaters or cruise passengers are never recovered. It is imperative that anyone who has been involved in a disappearance or who has lost someone they love at sea to consult with a maritime accident attorney immediately following the incident in order to make sure their rights are protected.

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