Coast Guard, Marine Patrol Continue Search for Missing Boaters - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

08/09/04

Coast Guard, Marine Patrol Continue Search for Missing Boaters

A Coast Guard boat searching. A Coast Guard boat searching.

Coast Guard crews and the Savannah-Chatham Marine Patrol aren't giving up, still hoping to find two missing boaters alive. Crews have been searching for 20-year-old Matthew Cason and 17-year-old Daniel Friese since their boat collided with a shrimp boat last night at the entrance to Lazaretto Creek.

As residents and guests walked along the North Beach of Tybee Island today, crews searched the waters just off shore, hoping to spot the two missing boaters.

"Hopefully, God willing, we'll recover two people that are injured and everything will be fine," said Sgt. Pete Leopold with Savannah-Chatham Marine Patrol.

What was a peaceful and relaxing evening in this area quickly turned into a nightmare last night for nearby residents.

"As soon as it collided, people started screaming," said resident Tara, who witnessed the event. "It was really loud. In fact one of the women from the condo complex said she thought it had hit the complex, because it was that loud."

Tara says the boat kept circling the shrimp boat until it capsized, taking Cason and Friese with it. Two others in the boat were rescued.

Tara says the shrimp boat was barely lit, making it hard for even her to see it. "It was pitch black, it was really really dark, you could just barely see the shadow of it."

Today with the light of day, residents and family members combed the beaches, looking for any sign of their loved ones, but mainly finding debris. A beautiful day is scarred by tragedy, and many say they're staying away from this part of the beach, at least for today.

Police say they will continue their search for as long as necessary. They have charged the driver of the boat, 24-year-old William Chad Cason, with operating the boat under the influence of alcohol and reckless driving. They say more charges are pending.

Reported by: Melanie Ruberti, mruberti@wtoc.com

Powered by Frankly