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Search suspended for two boaters missing on the Rappahannock

by Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi

The search for two missing boaters was suspended Monday night, May 20, following a more than 24-hour search of portions of the Chesapeake Bay and Rappahannock River.

The U.S. Coast Guard announced around 9 p.m. Monday that it had suspended the search for Dr. Stephen Perkins, 59, of Weems and Mark Ringenberg, 59, of Kansas City, Mo. The two were aboard a 15-foot Boston Whaler that departed from Weems Sunday morning, May 19. A resident reported the boat had washed ashore unoccupied at Mosquito Point in White Stone about 6 p.m. that evening.

According to Chief Joshua French with the Coast Guard command center in Portsmouth, there was no damage to the boat’s engine and several personal items were found on board. A Coast Guard press release stated the keys were in the ignition, shoes were on the deck and cold drinks in the cooler.

Boat crews from Station Milford Haven in Mathews County, along with aircrews from Air Stations Elizabeth City, N.C., and Atlantic City, N.J., searched the Rappahannock River and portions of the Chesapeake Bay for a combined 63 hours, covering approximately 774 square miles.

“Suspending a search is never an easy decision to make and weighs heavy on everyone’s heart,” said Capt. Kevin Carroll, Sector Hampton Roads commander. “There’s no way to express how sorry we are that we are unable to return Stephen and Mark home to their loved ones.”

According to Chief French, the search included areas around Mosquito Point, the lower Rappahannock River near the Robert O. Norris Jr. Memorial Bridge and in the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Water temperatures are in the upper 60s near where the boat was found. 

A 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew and an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew searched alongside vessels with the Virginia Marine Resources Commission and Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

“Unfortunately, there is no way to say what it is that happened,” said Chief French. “There’s no indication. 

“It’s an unfortunate and sad situation,” he added.

posted 05.23.2019

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