NEAR LONG BEACH (CBSLA) — Authorities Friday called off the search for a man who went overboard a boat headed from Long Beach to Santa Catalina Island Thursday evening.
Pending further updates, the @USCG has called off the search for a man who fell from a Catalina Island passenger ship off Long Beach after utilizing 22 Coast Guard and partner agency assets to search more than 600 square miles.
— USCG Los Angeles (@USCGLosAngeles) June 12, 2021
According to the Long Beach Fire Department, at about 6 p.m. a crew member saw a 24-year-old man jump off the Catalina Express shortly after it departed Long Beach on its way to Avalon and threw him a life ring.
The incident occurred about three miles into the journey. The man’s name has not been released.
“Deckhands actually saw some of it, so when they saw him hit the water, they threw a life ring over and here we are looking for him,” Greg Bombard, president of Catalina Express, said.
Authorities later located the life ring and used that site as the “point last seen” for the search effort, which included personnel from the U.S. Coast Guard, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Long Beach and Los Angeles city and county fire departments.
Some passengers on the boat said they felt the situation could have been handled better.
“He just seemed a little out of sorts walking onto the boat, and then we didn’t see what happened, but we circled the water for two hours,” Domina Woods, a passenger, said. “I just feel it should have been handled a little differently, maybe alerting the passengers as to what was going on so that we weren’t all confused and anxious.”
The passengers returned to the Port of Long Beach shortly before 8 p.m. where they were allowed to board a different boat and continue their journey to Avalon.
The search continued overnight Thursday and throughout the day Friday. A Coast Guard chopper with long-range capabilities was brought in from San Diego to assist Friday morning, along with the Coast Guard Cutter Blacktip, a patrol boat.
Another helicopter was brought in from Ventura County at daybreak Friday, the Coast Guard said. Multiple agencies would be taking part in Friday’s search.
Bombard told CBSLA that in the 40 years his company has been in business, nothing like this has ever happened.
Bombard stated that Catalina Express schedules drills weekly in accordance with US Coast Guard regulations involving various situations, including Man Overboard, Abandon Ship, Security and Fire Fighting and also coordinates emergency response drills involving other authorities.
“This level of preparedness was key to the expediency in which the Catalina Express captain and crew and local authorities responded to the situation,” the company said in a statement.
The search was officially called off at about 8:15 p.m. and authorities said notification was made to the man’s next of kin. His body has not been recovered.