John Russ, 72, and wife Diane Russ, 62, were last seen riding an air boat on the lake Saturday. Local officials said a friend reported the couple missing after losing sight of them during a storm.

The U.S. Coast Guard and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission searched for the couple Sunday before suspending their search. The wildlife commission found a vessel in the area near where the couple was reported missing, but officials were trying to determine whether it was the Russes’ boat.

“He is a very experienced airboater, a former commercial fisherman and very familiar with the lake. He’s not a rookie,” Gary Russ, a cousin of John Russ told the SunSentinel. “I can’t imagine him getting in a situation.”

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission located the airboat the Russ’ were last seen with no one aboard and no longer requested Coast Guard assistance for the search.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Miami received a request from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to assist with the search after a friend of the Russ’ reported the couple failed to return from a boating trip. Watchstanders issued an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast and launched a Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater MH-60 helicopter crew to search alongside the FWC.

The FWC will continue the search.


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