Coast Guard suspends search for boaters missing near Wales
On Tuesday morning, the U.S. Coast Guard suspended its land, sea and air search for two boaters missing from Wales since Sunday morning. The boaters, identified as 23 year-old Timothy Miligrock and 14 year-old Damian Soolook, went out to sea in a wooden rowboat around 2 a.m. on Sunday. Half an hour later, Wales residents heard the men yelling for help. The men reportedly were wearing a black sweater and an orange jacket and had no life jackets or survival gear on board.
Villagers contacted USCG and an airplane crew arrived on scene at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. According to a USCG press release, foggy weather made it hard for airplanes to see beneath the clouds, so a Jayhawk helicopter followed the next day. The Sikuliaq, a University of Alaska Fairbanks research vessel, was diverted from waters around St. Lawrence Island to assist near Wales. In total, search efforts lasted for 32 hours and spanned over 2,300 square miles.
Early Sunday, the weather was foggy and 33 degrees with 24 mile per hour winds and seas up to four feet. “Search efforts are hampered by fog, wind, ice, and waves,” an Alaska State Trooper dispatch reads.
A Wales volunteer search and rescue group combed the shoreline on Sunday and Monday. There was no sign of the men, but Wales residents did find debris on shore. However, the origin of the debris could not be confirmed.
“The decision to suspend a search is one of the most difficult decisions the Coast Guard has to make, (it) is made with great care and deliberation,” said USCG Public Information Officer William Colclough.