USCG Searches for Mariner Who Fell Between Tug and Dredger
The Coast Guard is searching for a man who went missing after falling overboard near Blount Island, Florida on Sunday.
Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville received a request for emergency assistance at about 0300 hours Sunday from the tugboat Pops. The caller reported that a 42-year-old man fell into the water while moving from the vessel to a barge. The victim was not wearing a lifejacket, and he did not resurface.
The Coast Guard dispatched an MH-65 helicopter aircrew from Air Station Savannah and a small boat crew from Station Mayport to begin a search. They were joined by crews from Florida Fish and Wildlife, Jacksonville Fire and Rescue, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and several dive units.
The effort was paused overnight and restarted Monday; the search has covered the full extent of the St. Johns River between Blount Island and the sea, but no sign of the missing mariner has yet been found.
The family of the victim has identified him as Oziel Martinez, a 20-year veteran of the maritime industry. The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 25 said that he was transferring from the tug to the clamshell dredging barge New York at the time of the accident.
"Our thoughts and prayers are currently with Brother Ozzy’s family, including his son and fellow Local 25 Brother Ozzie Jr. We are hoping that our brother will be found safe," the union said in a statement.