2010-03-12 / Top Stories

USCG: Capsized Boat Mystery Deepens

By Howard Schwach

Beach Channel High School students talk with police officials and school safety agents as the search goes on. Photos by Susan Locke Beach Channel High School students talk with police officials and school safety agents as the search goes on. Photos by Susan Locke Nearly a week after students at Beach Channel High School reported a capsized boat and two boaters in the waters of Jamaica Bay, officials say that the mystery of whether or not the boat was a derelict and if any boaters were ever in the water has deepened.

At about 10 a.m. on Thursday, March 4, the 911 emergency system received a cell phone call from a student at Beach Channel High School stating that a boat in nearby Jamaica Bay had turned over and there were two people in the water.

That call brought a massive emergency response from the New York City Police Department, the Fire Department and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Police helicopters put Scuba divers in the water and police and fire boats criss-crossed the bay. A large, red Coast Guard helicopter soon joined the search and the federal agency supplied several small rubber search and rescue boats as well.

The blue and white derelict boat is towed from the bay by a NYPD launch. The blue and white derelict boat is towed from the bay by a NYPD launch. A Coast Guard spokesperson said on Friday that the search had been called off late Thursday afternoon.

“We didn’t see anybody go in the water. All we had to go on was the student’s report that said they saw people go into the water,” said Coast Guard spokesperson PO3 Seth Johnson. “Because we got a report of people in the water, we responded to it as a search and rescue mission. There were two boats there, one a derelict and the other a 10-footer.”

Johnson added that one of the boats – the derelict boat – was white and blue with marine growth all over it. The other boat was white and green.

Neither boat had an engine and responding units found no paddles in the bay, sources say.

Johnson said that the green and white boat had a phone number written on the hull, but that investigators hit a dead end when they called the number to find that the people at the other end never owned a boat.

Police sources say they have received no missing persons calls that might be tied to the boat. Those sources declined to say whether the students who made the call were mistaken or if there was a hoax involved in the original call.

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