Coast Guard suspends search for 2 missing North Carolina boaters

GASTONIA, N.C. (AP) — The U.S. Coast Guard suspended their search Saturday for two North Carolina boaters who have been missing since August 27 after they failed to return from a fishing trip off the coast of Oak Island.

The Coast Guard found a fishing boat belonging to the boaters on Friday, but could not locate them.

The Gaston Gazette reports the boaters were Gaston County residents Steve Chaney and David Hambrick. Their 22-foot fishing boat was found 15 miles east of Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, hours after the Coast Guard announced the search had expanded south.

“After an exhaustive search on the water and from the air over the past week, we made the difficult decision to stop searching on Saturday evening,” said Rear Adm. Meredith Austin, commander, 5th Coast Guard District. “We have been in close contact with the families, and our thoughts are with them during this difficult time.”

Petty Officer 1st Class Luke Clayton said Friday that the boat hadn’t capsized, but was just floating in the ocean. Clayton said there were no signs of distress to indicate Hambrick and Chaney were forcibly removed from the boat.

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Information from: The Gaston Gazette, http://www.gastongazette.com, and the U.S. Coast Guard.