Coast Guard Abandons Search for Missing Boaters

A photo showing a man on an island with an "S.O.S." message led to nothing.

The Coast Guard has ended its search for two Miami men who left Halouver Inlet last Saturday on a deep-sea fishing trip to the Bahamas, but never arrived.

Families of friends Richard Alicea and Edwin Pritchard said the two men often made the trip to the islands, where Pritchard has family. The duo was expected to arrive in Bimini on the same day they set off in a 17' center-console Key Largo boat; they were reported missing by relativevs when they failed to arrive by Sunday.

The search took a dramatic turn Tuesday when the Coast Guard received a photo from a person said to have been aboard a commuter aircraft on Sunday; the image revealed what looked ike a person and an "S.O.S." distress message written in sand on the Bahamas' Berry Islands. The area was immediately searched by both air and foot; however, there was no sign of either man or boat.

Altogether, the Coast Guard searched approximately 46,000 miles over an area that stretched from Miami to Port Canaveral to the Bahamas.

"After a long and exhaustive search, investigating every possible lead presented to us, we made the difficult decision to suspend our active search for Richard Alicea and Edwin Pritchard," Coast Guard Capt. Drew Pearson said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of the missing boaters during this extremely difficult time."

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