Crews suspend search for man near grounded boat

August 4, 2014 - 8:05 PM
Grounded Boat

The fishing vessel Paloma remains stuck in the breakers on Ocean Beach in San Francisco, Calif., Monday, Aug. 4, 2014. The Coast Guard says a helicopter, two search boats and a beach rover are looking for a captain who may have abandoned his fishing boat after the vessel reportedly ran aground in 10 feet of water early Monday. (AP Photo/Bay Area News Group, Karl Mondon)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Crews suspended an hourslong air and sea search for a captain who may have abandoned his fishing boat early Monday when it got stranded off a popular San Francisco beach.

The Coast Guard called off its search for the missing captain, Timothy Lybrand, around noon after a helicopter, two boats and a beach rover scoured the area around Ocean Beach for the 40-foot vessel that reportedly ran aground in 10 feet of water nearly nine hours earlier.

"The decision to suspend a search and rescue case is always difficult," Capt. Mike Day said. "Given the close proximity to shore, and the vessel operator's stated intention to abandon the vessel, as well as the extensive search effort. ... I have made the decision to suspend the active search."

A salvage operations team spent Monday focused on bringing the capsized boat called "The Paloma" safely to shore, the Coast Guard said. Officials say they hope to have it out of water by late Monday or early Tuesday.

Lybrand apparently made a call from his vessel to other nearby boaters asking for help around 3:30 a.m. Monday — about an hour after he left shore, Lt. Cmdr Shawn Lansing said.

"(Lybrand) said he was 'on the rocks' and considered getting off the vessel," said Lansing, who added that Lyband intimated that he would try to swim to shore while wearing a life jacket.

Search crews, including the Coast Guard, the National Park Service and the San Francisco Fire Department, patrolled an 18-square-mile radius from Ocean Beach to the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.

A dive team also searched the vessel's deck, but no one was on the boat, Battalion Chief Denise Newman said.

With gas fumes filling the air, crews were also working to make sure that gallons of fuel were safely removed from the boat.

Lybrand's boat is registered with the Port of San Francisco, spokeswoman Renee Dunn Martin said. He usually fishes alone along the California coastline, she said.