Towboat, operator disappear off South Jersey

April 24, 2013 at 1:14 AM

CAPE MAY, N.J., April 24 (UPI) -- The Coast Guard launched a search for a New Jersey towboat and its operator after receiving an emergency signal Tuesday morning.

The Cape Hatteras, operated by David McAuliffe, 32, left Absecon Inlet, which divides Atlantic City from Brigantine, at 7:45 a.m., the Coast Guard said in a news release. Watchstanders received a signal from the vessel's EPIRB 3 hours later and launched a search when McAuliffe did not respond to radio and cellphone calls.

The vessel was near Great Egg Harbor Inlet a few miles south of Atlantic City. The owner said Great Egg Harbor was the Cape Hatteras' destination.

A Coast Guard helicopter spotted a life raft from the missing boat but saw no sign of the operator.

Maritime units from local police departments joined the search, the Coast Guard said.

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