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Coast Guard Calls Off Search For Missing Vega Baja Swimmer In Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN — Coast Guard air and surface units suspended the search for a 21-year-old man Tuesday in the island’s northern coast just off “Los Tubos” Beach in Manati.

Still missing Elias Espino Rosado from Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, last seen being pulled out to sea by the strong currents while swimming Sunday afternoon just off “Los Tubos” Beach.  

“Suspending a search knowing someone is still missing is one of the most difficult decisions,” said Lt. Cmdr. Alberto Martinez, Coast Guard Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator for this case. “We hope and pray the family and loved ones of Elias Espino find strength and closure during this most difficult time, and commend our air and surface crews and all the multi-agency rescue teams and personnel working this case.”

Coast Guard Sector San Juan watchstanders received a call at 6:50 p.m. Sunday from a local officer who initially reported the incident to the Coast Guard.

Throughout the three-day search, Coast Guard and local rescue units conducted a combined effort of six air and and three surface searches, covering approximately 160 square nautical miles.

Coast Guard assets involved in the search were:

  • MH-60T Jayhawk from Air Station Borinquen
  • Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos, a 154-foot fast response cutter homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • 45-foot Response Boat Medium from Station San Juan

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

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By 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everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling.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.