Coast Guard suspends search for missing boater near Hilton Head

HILTON HEAD, SC (WCSC) – The Coast Guard and several local rescue agencies have suspended the search for a missing man who fell overboard three miles east of Hilton Head Island Wednesday afternoon.

The missing man is 50-year-old Willis Frazier of Hilton Head. Authorities had incorrectly identified him Wednesday night as Lewis Fredrick.

"We have conducted an exhaustive search of the area based on the best information we have. We are suspending our active search pending the development of new information. The cause of the accident will be investigated by the Coast Guard," said Capt. Michael F. White, Jr., commander Coast Guard Sector Charleston.

Crews have searched an estimated 160 square miles.

Thursday, the Coast Guard had to pull several smaller search craft from the waters off Hilton Head Island after rough waters and inclement weather made their presence unsafe.

Frazier had not been located, but the search has been scaled back to only include a Coast Guard Cutter, a Department of Natural Resources plane and a Coast Guard helicopter.

Crews from Coast Guard Sector Charleston learned Frazier was working on his fishing boat, the Miss Pudgey, and fell overboard. He did not resurface. Witnesses said Frazier was not wearing a life jacket.

The Coast Guard called in a 41-foot rescue boat from Tybee Island, the 87-foot CG Cutter Tarpon, an MH-65 helicopter from Air Station Savannah, crews from the Department of Natural Resources, Beafort County Search and Rescue and the Beaufort County Beach Patrol.

© 2010 WCSC. All rights reserved.