Search suspended for boaters who went missing after collision on James River

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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – Four people were rescued and two are still missing after a collision between a recreational boat and an oyster barge being pushed by a tug in the James River on Saturday morning. 

The tug Miss Hannah called the Coast Guard around 7:45 a.m., when they saw the bow of the recreational boat carrying six people pop up behind a tug pushing an oyster barge with a pump barge alongside.

Nearby boaters helped to save four people. They were transported to a local hospital for treatment. 

Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City,  Coast Guard Station Portsmouth, Virginia Marine Police, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission and Newport News police searched for the other two boaters, but the search was officially suspended around 3 p.m. Sunday. 

The Newport News Fire Department says the Virginia Marine Police and Coast Guard will still patrol the crash area the next several days actively looking for the boaters. 

The Coast Guard and Virginia Marine Resources Commission are also jointly investigating the cause of the incident.

10 On Your Side’s Aesia Toliver spoke with individuals who say they’re the family of one of the missing boaters. One woman says her 51-year-old son is missing and he doesn’t know how to swim.

The woman also tells 10 On Your Side she doesn’t believe her son had on a life jacket.

Officials say only one out of the four people rescued from the accident were wearing a life jacket.

“Unfortunately this is the third water incident for us in the last 30 days where we’ve had to actively go out and assist people and we noticed there’s been a lack of safety devices,” said Newport News Deputy Fire Chief Kenneth Lay.

Stay tuned to WAVY.com for updates. 

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