Duval County

Coast Guard suspends search for missing boater last seen near the Buckman Bridge

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — UPDATE 2/5/2021, 8:00 p.m.: The Coast Guard has suspended the search for 19-year-old boater Michael Vaughn III.

Read the full release from the Coast Guard below:

“The Coast Guard suspended the search Friday for a man who went missing after reportedly falling overboard a 30-foot fishing vessel near Buckman Bridge south of Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Thursday.

Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office received a report at 7:57 a.m. of a 30-foot commercial fishing vessel unmanned and running in circles near the southside of the Buckman Bridge.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville dispatched a 29-foot Response Boat-Small crew from Station Mayport. Watchstanders issued an urgent marine information broadcast over VHF channel-16 notifying all mariners to keep a sharp lookout for 20 year-old-man who was reported missing.

  • Coast Guard assets involved in the search:
  • 29-foot Response Boat-Small crew from Station Mayport
  • 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew from Station Mayport
  • MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircrew from Air Station Clearwater
  • Coast Guard Cutter Tarpon (WPB-87310)

Partner agencies involved with the search were crews from Jacksonville Fire and Rescue, Florida Fish & Wildlife, U.S. Customs & Border Protection, Jacksonville Sheriff Office marine assets and dive units.

“We are thinking of the family and friends in this difficult time,” said Capt. Mark Vlaun, Commander of Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville. “We thank our partner agencies for their search efforts during this tragic situation.”

UPDATE 2/5/2021, 12 p.m.:

Missing 19-year-old boater Michael Vaughn III, of St. Augustine, had been engaged in commercial crab fishing by himself in the area of the Buckman Bridge before a witness reported seeing him fall overboard from his vessel, according to an incident report obtained by Action News Jax. The Coast Guard said they are still actively searching for Vaughn.

UPDATE 2/4/2021, 10:12 p.m.:

The Coast Guard is searching for a 19-year old man who went missing after falling overboard near Buckman Bridge, just south of the Jax Naval Air Station.

Action News Jax has been in contact with the Coast Guard throughout the day. They say there are search and rescue crews in the air and in the water. The Coast Guard tells Action News Jax a helicopter from Air Station Savannah is overhead while crews comb the St. Johns River working in search patterns.

The search crews were spotted on both the north and south side of the bridge.

Action News Jax took video of the scene and of the boat, which was pushed up against the side of the Buckman Bridge. When it was difficult to see, Action News Jax circled around for a better look.

The Coast Guard said the boat crashed into the bridge and that’s when police were called around 8 a.m., adding that JSO and JFRD have initiated their efforts.

UPDATE 2/4/2021 1:44 p.m.:

The Coast Guard says they are looking for a 19-year-old man who reportedly went missing near the Buckman Bridge south of Naval Air Station Jacksonville. They are still calling it a rescue mission at this time.

NOTE: The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department previously told Action News Jax that the search shifted to a recovery mission.


Multiple agencies are assisting with an incident near the Buckman Bridge.

The Coast Guard said police received a report just before 8 a.m. about a 30-foot fishing vessel that was found “unmanned and running in circles” near the south side of the Buckman Bridge.

Naval Air Station Jacksonville and the Coast Guard arrived at 9:07 a.m. and are currently searching in the area.

Crews with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department are also assisting.

Action News Jax has a crew in the area working to learn more information.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates and watch CBS47 & FOX30 for the very latest.