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Coast Guard’s 16-hour search for kite surfer ends when he calls and says he’s safe

Coast Guard Cutter (US Coast Guard/Released)

The Coast Guard searched 16 hours for a missing kite surfer off the coast of New Jersey, but never found him. Because he was chilling at his house.

The unnamed surfer was reported missing near Ocean City, N.J., at 3:20 p.m. Thursday, according to a Coast Guard press release. The Coast Guard and local police scrambled helicopters and rescue boats in an attempt to find the wayward surfer. But they called off the search around 10 a.m. Friday after he called them from dry land and said he was safe.

Worried bystanders had called 911 after they saw a man wearing all black seen drifting out to sea after falling off a kite board. What they didn’t know, and therefore didn’t tell the Coast Guard, is the man had cut the kite free after it malfunctioned and paddled back to shore on his board. Unaware of the search, he went on to enjoy his Thanksgiving

The Coast Guard and Ocean City police, meanwhile, were busy attempting to rescue him. The search included two helicopters and two Coast Guard rescue boats. They covered about 550 square miles in 16 hours, the release said. They found the kite he had cut loose, but there was no sign of the surfer himself.

“This case highlights the effectiveness of the interagency search and rescue system,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Alex Castonguay, a watchstander at the Sector Delaware Bay command center, in the press release. “Cases like this also illustrate the importance of labeling your kayaks, canoes, kite boards and other recreational marine vehicles, so that in the event they are lost, or you are missing, we can reach out to contact you or return it.”

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© 2019 New York Daily News