Two NFL Players + 2 Others On Boat Still Missing Off Florida

March 1, 2009

The U.S. Coast Guard continues searching the Gulf of Mexico off Florida on Sunday for a missing boat with four people aboard, including two National Football League players.

Defensive end Corey Smith, who played last season with the Detroit Lions, and linebacker Marquis Cooper, a special teams player who was with the Oakland Raiders, were on the boat, said Ron Del Duca, Smith’s agent.

The other two men were identified as Nick Skyler and William Bleakley, the Coast Guard said in a statement.

Smith and Cooper were friends who began their professional careers with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the NFL team that plays not far from where the missing boat left shore in Clearwater, Florida, early on Saturday morning.

The 21-foot (6-metre) boat left at approximately 6:30 am local time on Saturday from a boat ramp at Clearwater Pass and was reported missing when it failed to return as scheduled. The boat was reported missing at about 1:30 am Sunday.

The Coast Guard said it was searching about 50 miles (80 km) west of Clearwater Pass.

The weather was reportedly fine when they left, but a small boat advisory was in effect on Sunday for Gulf waters off Clearwater, warning of potentially dangerous conditions.

The forecast called for winds up to 30 miles per hour (50 km per hour) and seas up to 10 feet (3 metres) near shore and 14 feet (4.3 metres) offshore on Sunday night. Temperatures on shore could dip as low as 37 degrees Fahrenheit (2.8 degrees C), forecasters said.


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