The body of a mariner missing for more than 24 hours after the pleasure craft he was in collided with a Tortola-based ferry just off of Caneel Bay was found in-side the vessel on Tuesday morning, January 30.
U.S. citizen Patrick Ostheimer was the fourth person on the 30-foot motor boat — the only one not rescued following the maritime accident which caused the vessel to capsize, explained U.S. Coast Guard spokesperson Ricardo Castrodad.
The accident occurred on Sunday evening, January 28, about one and a half nautical miles west of Cruz Bay.
Pleasure Craft Capsized
U.S.C.G. officials were notified around 8:40 p.m. on January 28 that the Native Son Express had collided with a “30-foot pleasure craft motor vessel carrying four passengers,” according to Castrodad.
The name of the craft was not known and USCG officials were still investigating the cause of the collision, Castrodad added.
The only people on the ferry were crew members who pulled three of the four passengers on the smaller boat to safety, explained a representative of Native Son Express.
None of the crew members sustained any injuries, added the ferry representative.
The three rescued passengers were taken to Schneider Hospital where they were treated for minor injuries and released, according to Castrodad.
Water and Air Searches
“After we received notification, the search began for the missing boater — a 35-year-old blonde male wearing a white jersey, white cap and yellow shorts who was approximately 180-pounds and five-feet, eight-inches,” said the USCG spokesperson.
“We began searching with a 25-foot response boat out of our marine safety detachment in St. Thomas and with our HH 65 Dolphin helicopter out of Puerto Rico.”
After conducting six searches on Sunday evening, January 28, coast guard officials called it a night. The search continued throughout the day Monday, January 29, when divers swam beneath the pleasure craft looking for the missing boater.
“Salvage company divers dove underneath the capsized boat and didn’t find anything during the dive,” Castrodad said. “That is why we continued to search.”
Body Found Inside Vessel
The pleasure vessel was towed to a National Park Service mooring buoy — about one nautical mile north of the crash site — in preparation for righting the motor boat, Castrodad explained.
“At the end of the day Monday, Sea Tow, a salvage company from St. Thomas, was looking at overturning the capsized boat,” Castrodad said. “Because of the fading day light, they decided to wait until morning. So the next morning (Tuesday, January 30) we continued the search at daylight and at the same time Sea Tow was there to overturn the capsized boat.”
“When Sea Tow personnel righted the vessel they found the body of the missing boater trapped inside the speed boat,” said Castrodad.
Ostheimer worked for an engineering firm in Puerto Rico, where he had spent the past year. He was in the U.S. Virgin Islands for recreation at the time of the accident.
Ostheimer’s body was taken to Schneider Hospital where an autopsy will be performed, Castrodad explained.