Coast Guard suspends search for last boater after 3 found dead

The boating party departed Wednesday afternoon.

April 21, 2023, 2:46 PM

The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended its search for a fourth missing boater a day after three others were found dead in the waters off New England.

On Wednesday, the Coast Guard received a report that the boat was overdue from a family member of one of the boaters aboard the missing 17-foot vessel. The boat had departed Hampton Harbor, in New Hampshire, at about 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning and was due back by sunset, according to the boaters' family members.

The Coast Guard located an overturned boat approximately 7 miles northeast of Cape Ann, Massachusetts, which it confirmed to be the missing boat.

Jia Fu Zheng, 38, and Daxiao Lin, 43, of Quincy, Massachusetts, and Jaime Liu, 42, of Litchfield, New Hampshire, were recovered unresponsive and transported to Station Gloucester, Massachusetts, where they were pronounced dead by local medical examiners. The fourth boater, Bin "Michael" Cai, remains missing, according to the Coast Guard.

"Their reported destination was fishing grounds near Jeffreys Ledge, approx. 50 miles offshore," the Coast Guard tweeted.

Michael Sai and three additional people departed Hampton, N.H., on the morning of April 19, 2023, in the pictured 17-ft white center console.
First Coast Guard District/Twitter

A Coast Guard helicopter, plane and two boats were deployed to search for the missing people, the agency said. The Coast Guard had been using the last known position from a cellphone and the location of their anticipated fishing area to develop a search area. Crews had searched for 27 hours covering more than 1,567 square nautical miles.

The Coast Guard will conduct an investigation into the deaths as it was more than 3 miles from shore.

"We extend our deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of these boaters." Capt. Amy Florentino, the commander of the Coast Guard Sector Northern New England, said in a statement.

"The decision to suspend a search and rescue case is one of the most difficult decisions I must make, but we want the public and especially Mr. Cai's family that we did everything in our power to find them. The water temperature in New England at this time of the year dramatically reduces the survivability rate for anyone that enters the water, and we urge all boaters to keep the air and water temperatures in mind when planning their voyages this spring," Florentino said.