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Search continues for missing Pinellas Park boater

Rescuers planned to search until dark Monday for a Pinellas Park man who fell into the water near Fort De Soto Park while working on his boat.

Officials have been looking for Michael Douglas Rhine, 49, since Sunday afternoon. Several agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard, searched for hours at Bunces Pass between Shell Key and Fort De Soto after someone called 911.

Rhine and his wife were boating near the park about 4:30 p.m. Sunday when they noticed problems with the outboard motor. Rhine was working on the motor when he fell into the water, and his wife didn't see him resurface, Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said.

Bunces Pass is known for its treacherous currents, which can be challenging for boaters and deadly for swimmers.

Officials were using boats, helicopters and sonar equipment to look for Rhine, the sheriff's office said. If Rhine is not found by sunset Monday, Pinellas deputies and state wildlife officers expect to resume the search after daybreak Tuesday.

Rhine's family and friends sat near the boat ramps at the park Monday, watching while officials searched the coast. They declined to speak to a reporter.

Search continues for missing Pinellas Park boater 04/08/13 [Last modified: Monday, April 8, 2013 5:13pm]
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