Update Sunday 3:30 p.m.: The Coast Guard has suspended its search for two boaters who went missing on the James River early Saturday.
The search was suspended at 12:35 p.m. Sunday, after the Coast Guard and several other agencies covered over 200 square miles looking for the boaters, the Guard said in a news release.
“We would like to extend our condolences to those affected by this tragedy,” said Capt. Kevin Carroll, the commander of Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads. “As a first responder, suspending a search is never an easy decision to make.”
Assisting agencies included the Navy, Virginia Marine Resources Commission, Virginia Marine Police, Newport News Police and fire, Hampton Roads police, York County fire and Port of Virginia.
The boaters went missing early Saturday after their 19-foot center console boat collided with an oyster barge being pushed by a tugboat. The collision happened between the Monitor Merrimac Memorial Bridge Tunnel and the James River Bridge.
Good Samaritans pulled four of the boaters from the water, but two were still missing.
The waterway was closed Saturday, but it has reopened to boating traffic.
Update Sunday 10:45 a.m.: The Coast Guard and other agencies are still searching for two boaters who went missing after a center console boat was hit by a barge Saturday morning.
The Coast Guard will continue its search Sunday on the James River between the Monitor Merrimac Memorial Bridge Tunnel and the James River Bridge, said First Class Petty Officer Andy Kendrick, a spokesman for the Guard.
An 87-foot Coast Guard cutter patrol boat was out overnight on the James River, and search crews resumed the search in full-swing Sunday morning, Kendrick said.
A helicopter from Coast Guard station Elizabeth City also conducted a “first-light” search of the area Sunday morning.
Some search crews have side scan sonar and are using that to search, Kendrick added.
The waterway was closed Saturday, but it has reopened to boating traffic. Search crews ask boaters to proceed through the area with caution and “be attentive.”
Kendrick said the Coast Guard will continue the search as long as there is a chance the two missing boaters are still alive. When information changes, the agency will reevaluate.
Original story Saturday 3 p.m.:
Emergency responders are out on the James River searching for two people after a recreational boat collided with an oyster barge being pushed by a tugboat early Saturday.
Four additional people have already been rescued from the water.
The Coast Guard received a call from the tugboat Miss Hannah at 7:44 a.m. Saturday reporting the incident between the James River Bridge and the Monitor Merrimac Memorial Bridge Tunnel, the Coast Guard said in a news release.
The tug reported they saw the bow of a 19-foot center console boat pop up behind a tug pushing the oyster barge, which also had a pump barge alongside it.
Good Samaritans pulled four people from the water, who were taken a local hospital, the Coast Guard said. They are expected to make a full recovery.
The search is continuing with the aid of a Jayhawk helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina, Coast Guard Station Portsmouth search and rescue boats, a Virginia Marine Police airplane, a Virginia Marine Resources Commission boat, Newport News Police and fire boats and a Hampton Roads police boat.
As the search continues, the area between the James River Bridge and the Monitor Merrimac Memorial Bridge Tunnel is closed.
The Coast Guard and Virginia Marine Resources Commission are investigating the cause of the incident.
The barge was headed toward an oyster bed near the James River Bridge.