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Family of missing American sailor thanks USCG, Mexican navy for 'exhaustive' effort after search suspended

The children of one of the missing American sailors who disappeared near Mexico thanked the U.S. Coast Guard and Mexican navy for their efforts after authorities suspended the search

“Knowing that our family members have been part of a multinational search is not something we take for granted. It shows the kind of commitment and cooperation we all will praise in the years to come,” Melissa Spiccuza, daughter of Bill Gross, said in a statement. “Thank you to all who serve their countries at sea, on shore and abroad.

“To the community of sailors of all vessels who’ve searched, reported, reached out, shared and posted to aid in the search of Ocean Bound, Kerry, Frank and William we know your search will not end,” she added. “Those of us with saltwater in our veins will never stop hearing the call to keep a sharp lookout.”

Gross set sail with Kerry and Frank O’Brien on their vessel Ocean Bound, last making contact with anyone on April 4 when they were near Mazatlán, Mexico, the Coast Guard said over the weekend.

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Mexico Coast Guard navy

Kerry and Frank O’Brien, two of the missing people aboard the vessel Ocean Bound that was last contacted April 4 as it passed Mazatlán. (US Coast Guard)

The three Americans were aboard the 44-foot La Fitte sailing-vessel called Ocean Bound, which set off for San Diego but failed to make contact April 6 when it was supposed to stop in Cabo San Lucas.

Ellen Argall, mother of Pennsylvania native Kerry O’Brien, said her daughter has had a love of the water her entire life and told a local CBS News outlet she is confident her daughter is safe. 

“I just keep hoping and praying that I’ll hear some good news. I want good news, not bad news,” she said, adding that waiting for news has been “pure agony.”

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Boat that went missing

The 44-foot Le Fitte vessel Ocean Bound, which went missing April 4.  (US Coast Guard)

The Mexican navy expanded its search effort for the three American sailors, sending out four patrol boats and a twin-engine prop airplane to search the area. Ultimately, the Coast Guard suspended the search after “exhaustive” efforts covering an area larger than the state of California.

“The U.S. Coast Guard has been informed that the Mexican navy (SEMAR) has suspended their search for three American mariners aboard the sailing vessel Ocean Bound,” the Coast Guard said in a statement Wednesday.

Cmdr. Gregory Higgins, the command center chief of Coast Guard District 11, said, “Our deepest sympathies go out to the families and friends of William Gross, Kerry O’Brien and Frank O’Brien.”

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Mexico navy search

The 44-foot Le Fitte vessel Ocean Bound, which went missing after making last contact April 4.  (US Coast Guard)

Spiccuza, speaking on behalf of her family, “humbly and gratefully” thanked those involved in the search, especially USCG District 11 Commander Gregory Higgins, who has “become a part of our family.”

“Although this was devastating news for our family, we support the decision of SEMAR and the USCG,” Spiccuza said. “The search was exhaustive, heavily saturated in the Sea of Cortez between Mazatlán, Cabo Las Lucas and Puerto Vallarta.

“No evidence of Ocean Bound or her crew have been found thus far,” she continued. “The waters and ports along the Pacific coast of the Baja Peninsula have been contacted, searched and reported in repeatedly.

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“We understand that the search could not go on forever, and the ocean is a big place. We feel confident in the efforts of all agencies and, even though we haven’t found Ocean Bound or her crew, we can seek solace in that they have done everything anyone could do to find them.”

Spiccuza confirmed that the statement would serve as the family’s final message to the media and public “barring any major developments in the story,” concluding that “Ocean Bound and her crew are missing, but they will not be forgotten.”

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