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Coast Guard Suspends Search For Missing Person In The Water Near Culebra

SAN JUAN — The Coast Guard suspended its search for a missing male boater Wednesday night near the island of Culebra off Puerto Rico.

“Suspending a search is never easy, our thoughts and prayers are with the family of this missing person,” said Capt. José Diaz, Sector San Juan acting commander.  “After saturating the search area with no signs of a capsized vessel or of a person in distress, I’ve suspended the Coast Guard search pending further developments.”

Still missing is Darren Rodriguez Villanueva, a resident of Culebra, who reportedly departed on a voyage with another man to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands Sunday.  During their return voyage to Culebra Monday, the men jumped into the water after their vessel started taking on water.  The survivor reported losing sight of Rodriguez Villanueva moments after the vessel sank.

Coast Guard Sector San Juan watchstanders received a call at 8:36 p.m. Tuesday from the Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency reporting a possible person in the water near Culebra.

Coast Guard watchtanders initially diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos and directed the launch of an MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Borinquen to search for Rodriguez Villanueva. Watchstanders also transmitted an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast advising boaters and mariners in the vicinity to be on the lookout.

The search area encompassed waters east and south southeast of Culebra. Coast Guard crews conducted five surface and two air searches covering 250 square nautical miles, an area approximately 20 times the size of Culebra.

Coast Guard assets involved in the search:

  • MH-60T Jayhawk form Air Station Borinquen
  • Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos

Anyone who may have seen or with information on the possible whereabouts of Darren Rodriguez Villanueva is asked to contact the Coast Guard Sector San Juan Command Center at 787-289-2041.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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