Search for missing American sailors is suspended, Coast Guard says

Kerry and Frank OBrien, two of the missing individuals aboard the vessel Ocean Bound that was last contacted on April 4 as it passed Mazatlán. (US Coast Guard)

The U.S. Coast Guard says the search for three missing American sailors in waters off Mexico has been suspended after responders conducted an "exhaustive search" covering an area larger than the state of California. 

Kerry O’Brien, Frank O’Brien and William Gross, who set sail on their vessel Ocean Bound, were last heard from on April 4 when they were near Mazatlán, Mexico. 

The three were heading for San Diego but failed to make contact on April 6 when their 44-foot ship was supposed to stop in Cabo San Lucas.

"The U.S. Coast Guard has been informed that the Mexican Navy (SEMAR) has suspended their search for three American mariners aboard the sailing vessel Ocean Bound," the Coast Guard said in a statement Wednesday.



Kerry and Frank O'Brien, two of the missing individuals aboard the vessel Ocean Bound that was last contacted on April 4 as it passed Mazatlán. (US Coast Guard)

"The search was suspended pending further developments after SEMAR and U.S. Coast Guard responders conducted 281 cumulative search hours covering approximately 200,057 square nautical miles, an area larger than the state of California, off Mexico’s northern Pacific coast with no sign of the missing sailing vessel nor its passengers," the statement added. 

Cmdr. Gregory Higgins, the command center chief of Coast Guard District 11, said "Our deepest sympathies go out to the families and friends of William Gross, Kerry O’Brien and Frank O’Brien." 

"An exhaustive search was conducted by our international search and rescue partner, Mexico, with the U.S. Coast Guard and Canada providing additional search assets," he also said. "Unfortunately, we found no evidence of the three Americans’ whereabouts or what might have happened." 



The 44-foot Le Fitte vessel Ocean Bound, which went missing after making last contact on April 4. (US Coast Guard)

The Coast Guard also said in their statement Wednesday that the situation "underscores the importance of carrying a registered 406MHZ electronic position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) for automatic notification in emergencies." 

Ellen Argall, mother of Pennsylvania native Kerry O'Brien, said her daughter has had a love of the water her whole life and told a local CBS News outlet earlier this week that she is confident her daughter is safe.  

"I just keep hoping and praying that I'll hear some good news. I want good news, not bad news," she reportedly said, adding that waiting for news was "pure agony." 

"I'm trying to hold myself together," Argall added. 


The Ocean Bound was supposed to arrive in Cabo San Lucas two days after the sailors were last heard from. (US Coast Guard)

In an earlier interview with Fox5 San Diego, Higgins said it should have taken two days to get from Mazatlán to Cabo San Lucas in Baja California, but winds at the time were estimated to be around 35 mph (30 knots) and waves were reaching heights of up to 20 feet. 

"It would be arduous, it wouldn’t be a comfortable trip," Higgins told the station. "The three persons onboard have experience in the maritime industry, so they understand navigation of vessels… another person has years and years of experience on sailboats." 

Fox News' Peter Aitken contributed to this report. 

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