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Press Release | March 28, 2024

Coast Guard searches for U.S. Marine off Luquillo, Puerto Rico, cautions for life-threatening conditions in Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands beaches

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Coast Guard cautions beachgoers and boaters of high-surf and life-threatening rip currents through the weekend in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as search efforts continue Thursday, for a 26-year-old man in Luquillo, Puerto Rico. 

Still missing is Samuel Wanjiru, a U.S. Marine resident of Mass., who was visiting the island with his family, when he came into distress after going in the water Wednesday afternoon in the beach area of “La Pared” in Luquillo, Puerto Rico. 

Earlier Wednesday, Coast Guard watchstanders at Sector San Juan were alerted of a person in the water in distress in Montones Beach in Isabela, Puerto Rico.  As a Coast Guard MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter crew responded to the scene, local authorities reported the man was recovered unresponsive and later declared deceased.   

The National Weather Service in San Juan Puerto Rico has advised of High-Surf, Small-Craft and Life-Threatening Rip Current Advisories for eastern, northern, and western beaches in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands through the weekend. 

“This month has been deadly when it comes to beach drownings in the area of Puerto Rico,” said Capt. Jose E. Díaz, Commander of U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Juan.  “During this long-holiday weekend, I urge locals and visitors to pay close attention to the weather conditions and warnings from the National Weather Service and that they don’t go into the water when visiting beaches in the west, north and eastern coasts of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands until conditions subside.  There are several hundred miles of open ocean beaches which are extremely dangerous in the present conditions, and most do not have lifeguards.  People need to realize that the situation is serious enough to limit our ability to respond to search and rescue cases with surface vessels without further endangering our crews and assets.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the families who have lost their loved ones to the sea, we hope they find strength during this most difficult time.” 

Coast Guard watchstanders received a call from a 911 emergency service operator Wednesday afternoon reporting a person in distress in the water in Luquillo, Puerto Rico.  Watchstanders directed the launch of an MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter to search.  Search efforts continue Thursday with a forward deployed HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft, and MH-60T Jayhawk helicopters from Air Station Borinquen.  Multiple Office of Emergency Management Offices in the area, Puerto Rico Emergency Management Bureau, Puerto Rico Police are also actively searching. 

Vessels and facility operators, recreational boaters and people conducting water activities in the ocean, should pay close attention and monitor this situation through updated National Weather Service Advisories and take appropriate action to minimize the risks associated with these predicted conditions. 

For your latest National Weather Service Advisory for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands visit:  National Weather Service San Juan