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Search suspended for missing boater

By Staff | Mar 16, 2018

The Coast Guard has suspended the search for a missing 63-year-old man in the Gulf of Mexico after a fishing boat sank 70 miles south west of Fort Myers Beach.

The search for Dennis Grim, 63, was suspended at 1:30 p.m. Friday after the Coast Guard and partner agencies conducted 19 searches covering approximately 2,582 square miles over 39 hours.

“Anytime we have to suspend a search, especially when we couldn’t bring everyone home safe, it is the most difficult decision I have to make,” said Cmdr. Randall Brown, Sector St. Petersburg’s deputy commander in a prepared statement. “Our thoughts go out to all those that knew Mr. Grim.”

The search began after the Coast Guard rescued three of Grim’s crewmembers following a Thursday distress call.

Sector St. Petersburg watchstanders received the distress call at 3:59 a.m. via VHF-FM marine band radio channel 16 from James Beeman, captain aboard the 37-foot commercial fishing boat, J.U.M.A., out of Seminole. Beeman reported the boat was taking on water and he needed emergency assistance. At the same time, Coast Guard Seventh District watchstanders received an emergency position-indicating radio beacon alert correlating to the J.U.M.A.’s position.

An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Clearwater was launched, arrived on scene and rescued Beeman, Anthony Bertolino, and Darren Whalen clinging to life jackets and debris. The boaters reported Grim missing. The helicopter crew transported the three boaters to Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers for symptoms of hypothermia.

Crews involved in the search included:

An HC-144 Casa fixed-wing aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Miami

Coast Guard Cutter Diamondback, homeported in Fort Myers Beach

Coast Guard Station Fort Myers Beach 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boatcrew

MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew and HC-130 Hercules fixed-wing aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission aircrew

Source: U.S. Coast Guard 7th District PA Detachment Tampa Bay