The Coast Guard said Monday night that it had suspended the search for a man who had fallen from a tugboat near Blount Island in Jacksonville, Florida, early Sunday morning.
Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville said it received notification at about 3 a.m. Sunday from the tugboat Pops that a 42-year-old man had fallen into the water while transferring to a barge and had not resurfaced.
International Union of Operating Engineers Local 25 on Facebook identified the man as Ozzy Martinez and said he was transiting from the Gore Marine Transportation tug Pops, his assigned vessel, to the Dredge New York when he went overboard.
“Our thoughts and prayers are currently with brother Ozzy’s family, including his son and fellow Local 25 brother, Ozzie Jr.,” the Facebook post said.
The message later said, “These are the moments that we must show up for each other. Please stay safe and look out for your brothers and sisters.”
The Facebook message had more than 140 comments and shares Tuesday morning.
First Coast News said a friend reported that Martinez was an experienced captain who had worked in the industry for many years.
The Coast Guard utilized an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and crew from Air Station Savannah as well as a 29-foot response boat and its crew from Station Mayport to search for the man. They were assisted by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
First Coast News said the search-and-rescue operation was expanded from the Dames Point Bridge to the outbound St. Johns River but was called off by 8:40 p.m. Monday.
“The loss of a fellow professional mariner is especially difficult and our sincerest condolences go out to his family, friends and co-workers,” said Coast Guard Capt. Mark Vlaun. “We ask that all mariners keep a sharp lookout while transiting the waterways near Blount Island and to call our command center at 904-714-7555 with any reports of new information.”
The Pops is one of seven tugs operated by Gore Marine Transportation, headquartered in Townsend, Georgia.
“The Pops has proven itself a workhorse through the years. It is a coastal model bow tug that is comfortable working offshore and on the ICW,” a description on the Gore Marine website said.