UPDATE: Search Suspended For Missing Fisherman

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The Coast Guard has suspended its search for a missing 57-year-old man who was last seen going underwater and not resurfacing while he was surf fishing on the south end of Portsmouth Island near Morehead City Monday.

The missing person is identified as 57-year-old Bill Vestal.

A crew aboard an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., conducted a morning search Tuesday while North Carolina National Park Service personnel conducted a shoreline search.

The Coast Guard searched for approximately five hours, traveling 126 nautical miles covering 35 square nautical miles looking for Vestal.

Carteret County 911 dispatch personnel contacted Coast Guard Sector North Carolina watchstanders via phone at approximately 5:15 p.m. Monday reporting Vestal went underwater while fishing and did not resurface.

Sector North Carolina watchstanders issued an urgent marine information broadcast and dispatched crews aboard a 47-foot Motor Life Boat from Coast Guard Station Hatteras Inlet, N.C., and an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City.


A Coast Guard helicopter was scheduled to return to the skies at first light Tuesday to continue the search for a man who disappeared while fishing Monday evening.

The Coast Guard says people reported seeing a man who was surf fishing on the south end of Portsmouth Island, which is off Morehead City, go under water around 5:15 p.m. Monday. They say the man never resurfaced.

The man's name has not been released, but the Coast Guard says he is 57 years old.

A Coast Guard official told WITN's Heather King around 4:15 a.m. that visibility was so poor, the MH-60 Jayhawk Helicopter that had been searching for the missing man returned to Elizabeth City overnight, with the plan of returning to search again first light. Also, the 47-foot Motor Life Boat from Coast Guard Station Hatteras Inlet battled eight to twelve foot seas for hours overnight, and they postponed their search as well. The boat is expected to resume searching later, and the search for the missing man is still considered active.