Coast Guard suspends search for 2 missing boaters in North Carolina after overturned boat discovered

Posted at 12:05 PM, Nov 12, 2020

WILMINGTON, N.C. - The Coast Guard suspended the search Thursday for two people in the water after crews discovered an overturned recreational vessel near Beaufort Inlet on Tuesday.

George Hamilton Andrews from Raleigh and William “Bill” Watkins Merriman IV from Wilmington are still missing. They were last seen leaving from Atlantic Beach Sunday for a fishing trip aboard the 35-foot recreational boat Strike Zone.

"After the utmost consideration and careful review of all factors involved in this search and rescue case, the Coast Guard has made the difficult decision to suspend its active search efforts," said Captain Matt Baer, Sector Commander for Coast Guard Sector North Carolina. "The decision to suspend a search is never easy and our sincere thoughts go out to the families and friends of Mr. Andrews and Mr. Merriman during this incredibly trying time."

The Coast Guard, along with local agencies, began searching for Andrews and Merriman Tuesday morning after watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector North Carolina Command Center received a report from a transiting fishing vessel that a 35-foot recreational boat was found overturned about four nautical miles outside of Beaufort Inlet.

"The Coast Guard diligently searched with our pilots, boat forces, cutter crews and numerous partner agencies in the water, in the air and on land," said Cmdr. Corrie Sergent, a search and rescue mission coordinator at Coast Guard Sector North Carolina. "We saturated the vast search area but, unfortunately, were unable to locate the two missing men."

Coast Guard crews searched approximately 8,600 square miles over a period of 58 hours with multiple assets.

Resources used in the search efforts include:

  • Coast Guard Station Fort Macon 47-foot Motor Life Boat
  • Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter
  • Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City C-130 Hercules aircraft
  • Coast Guard Cutter Seahawk
  • Coast Guard Cutter Nathan Bruckenthal
  • Atlantic Beach Fire Department small boat
  • Morehead City Fire Department small boat
  • Beaufort Fire Department small boat
  • National Park Service
  • Carteret County Sheriff's Department

TowBoat U.S. recovered the overturned vessel and the Coast Guard is investigating the incident.

Anyone who has information about this case is asked to reach out to Sector North Carolina Command Center watchstanders at (910) 343-3880.

Stay with News 3 for updates.