Search Is Launched For Missing Boater

The search was on Sunday for a missing boater whose boat was found just south of East Ship Island early Sunday morning.

Rescue workers spent most of the day combing the waters for the missing boater. Authorities said he was fishing between Biloxi and the Chandeleur Islands Saturday afternoon.

When the man didn't return to the Beau Rivage's Sportsman Lodge yesterday evening, his girlfriend notified the Coast Guard. The man was fishing in a 23-foot boat called The Dusky. The boat was found with the key in the ignition, the clutch ahead, and the kill switch tether still attached to the vessel.

The waters of the Mississippi Sound just south of East Ship Island were relatively calm during Sunday's search, after a night of high winds with waves swelling as high as eight feet, conditions that likely caused the missing man's boat to topple.

"Just before dusk last night, the Civil Air Patrol spotted a boat on the south side of east Ship about 300, 400 yards east of Camille Cut," said Lieutenant Robbie Cox of the Harrison County Sheriff's Department.

"The boat was washed up in the surf on the South side of the island." Lt. Cox and U.S. Customs agent Scott Fenner helped out in the search, which was by water and air.

They kept their eyes peeled for the boater, knowing the missing man's chances of being found alive depended greatly on whether he was wearing a life vest.

"You never expect the worst case scenario to happen," said U.S. Customs agent Scott Fenner. "You never expect bad luck to happen to you that day, but if you prepare for it, the chances of you surviving an accident in the water greatly increases."

Meanwhile, the search continues for the missing boater.

Rescue workers hope this mission will not turn out like so many others that have left them pondering why so many people don't wear life vests.