Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Search continues for missing sailor
Authorities found Iowa man's sailboat, but no sign of him since Friday

State and federal emergency responders were still searching Monday afternoon for an Iowa tourist who vanished during a solo sailboat trip Friday off Key Largo.

Mark Polaschek, 49, of Davenport, Iowa, was reported missing by his wife at 8 p.m. Friday when he didn't return to Manatee Bay Club marina at Mile Marker 112 on the 18-Mile Stretch, according to the Coast Guard and Monroe County Sheriff's Office.

The wife told the Sheriff's Office that Polaschek is not an experienced boater and "she did not go with him, because she was afraid of his lack of boating skills," according to Sheriff's Office press release.

A Coast Guard Air Station Miami helicopter crew found Polaschek's 26-foot sailboat, Mrs. Big, adrift in the mangroves on the gulf side Saturday morning, said Coast Guard District 7 spokesman Mark Barney.

Crews subsequently widened their search as they were was no evidence on the boat that suggested what happened to Polaschek, Barney said.

"We're taking everything into account now with our search in terms of weather and all those things since he wasn't found aboard the vessel," Barney said.

Coast Guard Station Islamorada boat crews are spearheading the search on the water and helicopter crews from Miami continued their search from the air. Boat crews from the Sheriff's Office and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) also are assisting in the search.

"Since Friday night, we have searched aggressively and continue to search," said Coast Guard Sector Key West commander Capt. Al Young. "We are fortunate to have strong interagency relationships, as we have searched alongside the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the National Park Service."

Anyone with information is asked to call Coast Guard Sector Key West at 305-292-8726. alinhardt@keysnews.com

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