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.
— USCGSoutheast (@USCGSoutheast) February 7, 2016
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.