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Press Release | Dec. 11, 2023

Coast Guard rescues three men, while search ends after body of fourth is recovered off Playa Escondida Beach in Fajardo, Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The search for a missing man ended Monday morning after local emergency management rescue crews located and recovered his body in the water off Playa Escondida Beach in Fajardo, Puerto Rico.

The crew of a Coast Guard MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter rescued three other men in this case, Saturday, after they were caught and pulled by the strong currents off Playa Escondida.

“We extend our most heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the deceased, and pray they find strength during this most difficult time,” said Capt. Jose E. Diaz, Sector San Juan commander.  “We appreciate the response and coordination from the local, state and federal agencies that played a crucial role in rescuing three survivors in this case and assisting a police rescue swimmer to safety.”

Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan received a 911 call, Saturday, in which the reporting source informed his four friends were in distress.  He further stated that initially one friend was floating in the water when he was caught and pulled by the strong currents, and that his three other friends went into the water to try and rescue him, however, they were all soon overcome by the strong currents. Coast Guard watchstanders also received information that a Good Samaritan went into the water and found one of the persons in distress face down and unresponsive, but they were unable to retrieve the person due to the strong currents.

Coast Guard watchstanders directed the launch of a Coast Guard MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Borinquen, notified Puerto Rico Police Joint Force of Rapid Action Marine units in the region and transmitted an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast to alert vessel traffic and boaters of the ongoing distress.  A Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action marine unit and helicopter arrived on-scene, however the shallow waters in the area prevented the marine unit from reaching three of the persons in distress. The police aircrew deployed their rescue swimmer who was able to reach and provide flotation devices to the three survivors.  Shortly thereafter, the Coast Guard MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter arrived on scene, deployed their rescue swimmer, and hoisted the survivors and the police rescue swimmer safely aboard the aircraft.  Following the rescue, the Coast Guard aircraft transferred the three survivors and police swimmer to awaiting Emergency Medical Service personnel in the vicinity, before continuing with the search.

Puerto Rico State and Municipal Emergency Management crews used an air drone and unit divers to locate and recover the body of the missing man this morning.

“There have been multiple search and rescue cases in the Playa Escondida Beach area this year, and we caution beachgoers that this is a highly dangerous beach, well known for its overpowering rip currents which can overtake the best of swimmers,” said Chief Warrant Officer Daniel Capestany, Sector San Juan command duty officer. “We urge beachgoers to heed the no swimming allowed warnings that are posted at the beach.”

Coast Guard and Local Agency Units involved in the search:

  • Coast Guard MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter
  • Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action marine unit
  • Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action helicopter
  • Puerto Rico Emergency Management Bureau rescue unit
  • Fajardo Municipal Office of Emergency Management
  • Puerto Rico 911 Emergency Service Bureau
  • Puerto Rico Medical Emergency Corps.