A weekend duck hunt in Virginia’s Chincoteague Bay turned into a tragic search-and-rescue mission on Jan. 22 when four teenage duck hunters took on a large wave in their 16-foot jon boat. The boat capsized in the rough seas, sending all four hunters into the water. Two were able to stay with the boat and were rescued by another boater. One of the teens died in the water; the fourth is still missing, according to the Virginia Marine Police.
Officials say the four teenagers were near Curtis Merritt Harbor in the southern part of Chincoteague Bay around 9:20 a.m. on Saturday when their boat capsized. A winter storm in the area had created dangerous boating conditions with winds gusting to 15 miles per hour, air temperatures in the low 20s, and water temperatures in the low 40s.
Two of the hunters, ages 17 and 19, were able to stay with the overturned boat. They were pulled from the water by a nearby boater and immediately taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Search-and-rescue teams then focused their efforts on the two missing teenagers. The Coast Guard eventually recovered the body of 18-year-old Cory Alles of Bentonville, Virginia.
Crews continued their search for the fourth teen over the weekend, but the 17-year-old was still missing as of Monday morning. Authorities, who are continuing to search the bay by boat and aircraft, say they have notified his family. A Facebook post announcing a candlelight vigil for the two hunters identified the missing teen as Nathan Jenkins. The vigil is scheduled for Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. at the Browntown Baptist Church.
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“Authorities remain committed to bringing closure to the victim’s family,” Virginia Marine Police Chief Matthew Rogers told a reporter with Chesapeake Bay Magazine. “The Virginia Marine Police and the Virginia Marine Resources Commission offers its deepest condolences to the families during this time.”