Coast Guard ends search for Haitian migrant in Mona Passage

Rescue crews end search for 30-year-old man reportedly still missing


SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Coast Guard rescue crews say they ended their search Thursday afternoon for a missing Haitian male migrant, approximately 11 nautical miles west of Mona Island, Puerto Rico.

Reportedly still missing is Phillip, no last name available, who was described by survivors as a 30-year-old man who is dark skinned, 6 feet tall and wore a red shirt and black pants.

Officials said the missing Haitian was reportedly traveling with a group of 49 Haitians and 2 Dominicans, consisting of 40 men and 11 women, who were rescued Tuesday night by the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Richard Etheridge from a sinking migrant vessel in the Mona Passage.

Coast Guard rescue crews continued to search for additional possible survivors as they tried to determine if all the migrants aboard the sinking boat were accounted for. Following interviews with survivors, authorities said it was determined that at least one more migrant remained missing.

"This is yet another tragic ending as a result of ill-fated promises from ruthless smugglers," said Capt. Drew W. Pearson, Sector San Juan commander. "These smugglers took a man's life into their hands and as a result of their actions he is missing at sea despite our best efforts to find him. While our search is over, we will continue to work with our partners to ensure those that endangered so many lives by attempting to make a perilous journey across the Mona Passage in an unseaworthy, grossly overloaded 20-foot wooden boat are held accountable for their actions."

Authorities said Coast Guard search and rescue crews searched for more than 40 hours, covering approximately 1,330 square nautical miles within the search area.

"While Phillip's family and friends may never be identified or know what happened to him, our thoughts and prayers are with them," said Pearson.