The Coast Guard Called Off Its Search. Then, a Lone Life Raft

Sailor who went missing 2 weeks ago found alive in life raft off coast of Washington state
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 28, 2023 7:45 AM CDT
The Coast Guard Called Off Its Search. Then, a Lone Life Raft
Photo of the life raft as a rescuing vessel approaches.   (X/USCG Pacific Northwest)

On Oct. 12, two fishermen set out from Washington state's Grays Harbor in a 43-foot vessel called Evening, set to return three days later. They never came back, however, and were missing for two weeks—until Thursday, when one of the men, floating in a life raft, was rescued by Good Samaritans, per CBS News. On Wednesday, the US Coast Guard's Pacific Northwest division had announced that, after searching 14,000 square miles of sea, it was calling off the search for the men, expressing its "sincerest condolences" to family members of the men.

Then, on Thursday, a fishing vessel spotted something in the water, about 70 miles northwest of Cape Flattery. "I saw what looked like a life raft in the distance and ran inside and put the binoculars on him and then he shot off a flare," Ryan Planes, who was on a fishing trip with his uncle John Planes and friends, tells KING 5. USCG Pacific Northwest has the dramatic photo of when the rescue vessel is seen approaching the man in the life raft. John Planes said that after the man was pulled onto their vessel, he "gave me a big hug" and proceeded to chow down on breakfast offered to him by those on board, as well as suck down three bottles of water.

"He was pretty hungry, poor guy," says John. John also notes that the man told them he'd been alone for 13 days and had run out of food and water, surviving as best he could by eating a salmon he'd caught. The rescued man was brought ashore by the Canadian Coast Guard and a Canadian rescue group and hospitalized; he's now said to be in stable condition. It's not clear if a search will resume for the survivor's companion, who remains missing. An investigation continues. (More lost at sea stories.)

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