Family, USCG search for clues on missing NC boater

Thomas "Andy" Richmond (Source: U.S. Coast Guard)
Thomas "Andy" Richmond (Source: U.S. Coast Guard)
(Source: Robert Libbey of Myrtle Beach)
(Source: Robert Libbey of Myrtle Beach)

Myrtle Beach, SC - MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A North Carolina family continues to search for answers after the U.S. Coast Guard called off the search for a missing boater early Sunday morning.

Rescue teams have searched by boat and air since late Thursday for the missing fisherman, whose boat floated ashore near 62nd Avenue North in Myrtle Beach, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Myrtle Beach Police Beach Patrol was called to the scene around 11:20 p.m. Thursday when someone found the 28-foot boat, named "Heads or Tails," on the beach with its two motors running. Coast Guard officials said the operator of the boat, identified as Thomas "Andy" Richmond, 55, of Ocean Isle, NC, did not make any distress calls.

Officials said they found the boat empty with no signs of physical damage.

The man's wife said he has been on fishing excursions a few times a week since the summer season started, and departed the Shallotte Inlet around 8:30 a.m. Thursday. Richmond's wife reported his vessel overdue around 10 p.m.

Four U.S. Coast Guard boats were involved in the water search for Richmond - one from Georgetown, two from Charleston and a fourth from Oak Island, NC. The Coast Guard also used a helicopter from Charleston and a plane from Elizabeth City, NC, in addition to a helicopter provided by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

Search and rescue crews focused their attention on an area 10-15 miles off shore, according to Coast Guard officials in Charleston. The boat's GPS was functioning and gave search crews his route, which was used to aid in the search.

The route, according to officials, stretched for about 167 miles from the Shallotte Inlet to Myrtle Beach.

The Coast Guard is asking that anybody with information about or the whereabouts of Richmond to contact the Coast Guard command center in Charleston at 843-740-7050. The search will not resume unless new clues are produced.

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