UPDATE: A family member tells WTSP-TV in Tampa Bay (WFMY TV 2’s sister station) that the Coast Guard has found a boat with one person clinging to the side. We have just learned that the person clinging to the boat is Nick Schuyler.
We will have the details posted here as we learn them.
Clearwater, FL — The Coast Guard received no distress signal from a fishing boat that disappeared off Florida’s Gulf Coast while carrying two NFL players and two former college players.
The Coast Guard searched a wide area for the 21-foot vessel carrying Corey Smith, a Detroit Lions free-agent defensive end, and Marquis Cooper, an Oakland Raiders linebacker. Will Bleakley and Nick Schuyler, both former University of South Florida players, were also aboard.
The boat was reported missing Sunday, one day after it left Clearwater Pass and did not return as expected Saturday evening as the weather became increasingly rough, with heavy winds and high seas.
Coast Guard Capt. Timothy M. Close said there was no communication with the men even before the weather started to pick up and no SOS call was received.
“That’s not to say they didn’t send one out,” he said. “We didn’t receive anything.”
The Coast Guard used a helicopter and an 87-foot ship to search a 750-square mile area west of Clearwater Pass, but poor weather on Sunday made the search difficult.
There was no sign of the men or the boat by Sunday evening. Relatives told the Coast Guard the men had lifejackets and flares onboard.
Cooper owns the boat and he and Smith have been on fishing trips before, said Ron Del Duca, Smith’s agent. The pair had been teammates on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2004.
Smith, 29, had 30 tackles, including three sacks, and an interception in 12 games last season for the winless Lions. Smith, who is 6-foot-2, 250 pounds, also played for the San Francisco 49ers and played college ball at North Carolina State. He lives in Richmond, Va.