USCG: Search suspended, diver’s gear found with suspected encounter with a marine predator

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Hundreds gathered to honor the missing diver after the Coast Guard called off the search. Hear from the friend who found his damaged gear on Action News Jax CBS47 at 11

Tuesday, July 13 - 6:20 p.m. UPDATE:

The search for missing diver, Timothy “Timmy” Obi, has been suspended, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

In a statement released just after 6 p.m. the USCG said:

“This afternoon I have made the determination based on new information to suspend the search for Mr. Timothy Obi. The Coast Guard and our partners extend our deepest condolences to the Obi family, who remain our thoughts and prayers during this exceptionally difficult time.”

The statement also said a volunteer boat found damaged diving gear around 1 p.m. Tuesday just 250 yards from Obi’s original dive location. The family did confirm the gear belonged to Mr. Obi.

The USCG said, “The location and condition of the gear are consistent with a suspected encounter with a marine predator.”

Captain Vlaun clarified after releasing the statement, the USCG is not commenting on Mr. Obi’s cause of death. The statement about the condition of the gear was evidence to call off the search.

Capt. Vlaun stated, “The gear was found in such a way that provided conclusive evidence that there was no longer a reasonable change of a successful search.”

You can read the USCG full statement here, or below:

Coast Guard has suspended the search, Tuesday, for Timothy Obi, a 37-year-old male diver who went missing Saturday approximately 46 miles east of Mayport.

Diving equipment matching the description of Obi was located by a diver Tuesday at approximately 1 p.m. about 250 yards from the original dive location.

The Coast Guard and mission partners searched more than 3,800 square nautical miles for approximately 89 hours.

On Saturday, the dive vessel, Pole Dancer, notified Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville watchstanders at approximately 12:15 p.m., that Obi went missing while diving.

A Station Mayport rescue crew and an Air Station Savannah helicopter crew launched. Naval Station Mayport-based USS Lassen assisted with the search and relayed communications to the watchstanders. Searching continued for more than three days by multiple agencies both on and below the surface of the water.

“This afternoon I have made the determination based on new information to suspend the search for Mr. Timothy Obi. The Coast Guard and our partners extend our deepest condolences to the Obi family, who remain our thoughts and prayers during this exceptionally difficult time. Earlier today, the Coast Guard received a report from a volunteer dive boat indicating they had located damaged diving gear. The Obi family confirmed that the gear belonged to Mr. Timothy Obi. The location and condition of the gear are consistent with a suspected encounter with a marine predator.

I am incredibly thankful for the outpouring of support in the Jacksonville community and for the hundreds of volunteers who took to the air and sea throughout this search effort. I am indebted to our many mission partners: Florida Fish and Wildlife, Customs and Border Patrol Air and Marine Operations, Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Naval Air Station Jacksonville, and USS LASSEN. The Obi family has asked the public and media to respect their privacy while the family grieves their loss, and to direct all questions and inquiries to the United States Coast Guard,” said Capt. Mark Vlaun, Commander, Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville.”

Coast Guard assets involved in the search:

Tuesday, July 13 - 4:45 p.m. UPDATE: Action News Jax checked marine radio and heard that the search is being called off. We have reached out to the U.S. Coast Guard to find out what led to the search being called off.


ORIGINAL STORY, LIVE UPDATES throughout the active search

The search continues for a scuba diver who went missing Saturday 46 miles off the coast of Mayport in Jacksonville.

Family and friends identified the 37-year-old diver as Timothy “Timmy” Obi, a Jacksonville native, loving husband, and father of three young boys.

PHOTOS: Search for Timothy Obi, missing diver, father of 3 continues off the coast of Mayport

Originally, three divers went down but only two resurfaced, according to friends and family of the Obi.

Multiple agencies have joined in the search for Obi. Action News Jax will provide the latest updates on the search below:

TUESDAY, JULY 13:

10: 38 a.m. update: The U.S. Coast Guard and other agencies are expanding the search for Obi “to account environmental conditions and potential drift.” Officials are using an aircraft with advanced optical/infrared technology and is getting air assistance from the FWC. There are also small boats currently searching the water’s surface for the missing diver and JFRD will begin to conduct side sonar scanning.

MONDAY, JULY 12:

10:30 p.m. update:

Crews have searched 275 nautical miles, for 70 hours and they are not giving up.

USCG will continue through the night. Aircraft searches and other agencies will begin again at first light Tuesday.

7 p.m. update:

Multiple agencies are still assisting the USCG in the search for Timmy Obi. JFRD continues side sonar scans, FWC is conducting surface and aerial search, and an aerial scan by the U.S. Customs and Boarder Protection Air and Marine Operations (CBP AMO).

12:20 p.m. update: The US Coast Guard announced that its personnel and several other agencies such as the USCG air station, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and dozens of recreational boaters, are continuing the search for Obi.

SUNDAY, JULY 11

9:38 p.m. update: Crews will continue to search through the night for missing diver Timothy Obi.

7:52 p.m. update: Crews are looking out for a dive flag and an inflatable buoy which the diver had when he went missing.

3:30 p.m. update: The USCG Sector of Jacksonville said they are still continuing an active surface search for Timmy Obi.

Multiple other agencies are assisting as well.

An aircraft from Clearwater and an aircraft from Miami are also searching the areas.

JSO and JFRD are conducting an underwater search with side-scan sonar near the area Obi went missing.

The USCG also added two new search zones to the west of the dive site for volunteer boaters or aircraft in the area.

The USCG Facebook post update said, “All boaters are asked to be on the lookout for a dive flag and inflatable buoy that Mr. Obi has with him.”

Captain Vlaun said the USCG is “using self locating datum marking buoys and sophisticated computer modeling to account for ocean and atmospheric conditions.”

9 a.m.: The search continues Sunday morning for Jacksonville native, Timmy Obi, who friends and family say is a loving husband, and father of three young boys.

The USCG searched through the night Saturday. Now multiple agencies have joined them once again Sunday morning to continue their efforts in finding Obi.

A coast guard aircraft started a wide-area search Sunday morning, according to Mark Vlaun, the Captian of USCG of the Port of Jacksonville.

The USCG Jacksonville sector shared on Facebook two zones they have marked for those looking to help in the search.

“There are two 20 X 20 NM squares search areas created centered around the coordinates 30-40.833N 081-02.285W and 30-20.234N 081-02.014W.,” from the USCG Jacksonville Facebook.

Action News Jax spoke with Obi’s son’s teacher who said Timmy is an easy-going, active person.

Neighbors say the family is full of joy.

One neighbor said, “They are very active and always out in the street, and in the yard, and having fun.”

Obi’s brother, Ryan shared his last known coordinates on Facebook Saturday, N 30º28.796′ -- W 80º28.228′ and asked if anyone had a boat that could go offshore to help search.

Sunday morning he updated his post, sharing that the USCG Jacksonville sent out a search grid. Below is what Ryan Obi shared on social media Sunday morning:

The currents are approx 2 mph S to N. USCG is advising to search from furthest northern point working to the South.

30 50.458W

081 13.392W

30 50.458W

080 51.015W

30 31.189N

80 51.098W

30 31.333N

81 13.392W

Agencies assisting with the search include Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, The US Navy, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation, CGC TARPON, CG Air Station Savannah, and CG STA Mayport, according to Vlaun.

Any boaters who would like to help with the search should contact the USCG on Channel 16 and listen to marine broadcasts for updates.

SATURDAY, JULY 10:

Action News Jax has learned that there is a missing scuba diver 46 miles off the coast of Mayport Jacksonville.

The family identified the missing diver as Timothy “Timmy” Obi.

Originally, three divers went down but only two resurfaced, according to friends and family of the missing diver.

Air Station Savannah and the U.S. Coast Guard are assisting in a search and rescue effort. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission has also responded.

The U.S. Navy is assisting with communication response.



Bailey Husker

Bailey Husker, Action News Jax

Bailey Husker is a digital content producer and assignment editor for Action News Jax.