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Coast Guard, Mexico searching for 3 Americans missing at sea

A U.S. Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Timothy M. Black/Released)
April 17, 2023

The U.S. Coast Guard is searching for three American sailors who have been missing for nearly two weeks, last heard from near the Mexican city of Mazatlán.

The Coast Guard is assisting the Mexican Navy’s search for Kerry O’Brien, Frank O’Brien, and William Gross, who reportedly left Mazatlán on their boat April 4 and were never heard from again, according to a press release.

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The three were sailing a 44-foot Lafitte boat called “Ocean Bound,” the press release stated.

The Americans planned to stop for provisions April 6 in Cabo San Lucas before continuing to San Diego. But there is no record of them arriving in Cabo San Lucas and no other report of their location, according to the press release.

The Coast Guard said marina operators throughout Baja, Mexico, have reported not seeing the missing boat.

A tweet from the Coast Guard included a picture of the O’Briens and two photos of the “Ocean Bound.”

A joint statement from the missing sailors’ families said the three “are all experienced sailors,” CNN reported. The statement said the sailing community “has hundreds of additional vessels looking for our family members.”

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Gross’ daughter, Melissa Spicuzza, told NBC 7 that he lives on a boat in a San Diego Bay marina, and the O’Briens invited him on the sailing trip.

“He loves the ocean and he loves sailing so any opportunity that he has to be on the water, he will take,” Spicuzza said.

A Coast Guard search mission coordinator, Cmdr. Greg Higgins, told CNN that weather conditions were “not optimal for that type of trip” when the Americans set out from Mazatlán.

“Winds potentially over 30 knots and seas 15 to 20, maybe more, feet at the time of their voyage,” he said. “It’s a long trip … even in good conditions, from Mazatlán to Cabo. That’s two days.”

He said the Coast Guard has helped with search planning.

“We’re using computer search tools to identify where the vessel may be based on environmental conditions, winds, and currents, where it may have drifted if they became distressed,” he said.

He added that Coast Guard aircraft and cutters are also “searching with the permission of Mexico,” CNN reported.