The Coast Guard is searching for a former Niles Sales Service mechanic and his family, including three young children, that have apparently gone missing in a sailboat bound for mainland Florida.
A friend last saw Andrew Page, 40, his 37-year-old wife Melissa, and their three children, ages 5 to 11, Thursday in Kemp Channel near Cudjoe Key on a 30-foot white catamaran sailboat with brown stripes, said Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Chris Mullen of Sector Key West.
The Coast Guard received word of the missing family Monday from the biological mother of one -- or all -- of the children, who lives in Fort Lauderdale, Mullen said. The family was overdue, but it was unclear Tuesday how much overdue or when and from where they left Key West -- all factors compounding search and rescue efforts, Mullen said.
Andrew Page's cellphone is no longer working, Mullen said. All three children were pulled out of Monroe County schools, as the family was moving.
The Coast Guard was unable Tuesday to confirm if the children had been enrolled in new schools, Mullen said.
Meanwhile, Jack Niles, owner of Niles Sales Service of the Keys, said some of his employees believed Page recently quit his job as a Nissan mechanic in Key West to take a job as an Infiniti mechanic at a dealership in Fort Myers, but he wasn't sure of the specifics.
Niles told The Citizen on Tuesday that he had hoped the rumors of Page and his family vanishing weren't true.
"He is a good guy and was here for a few years," Niles said. "I hate to hear this, especially with those three children involved. We are praying over here that everyone is OK, especially the children."
A worker at the Infiniti of Fort Myers dealership said Tuesday the company recently took an application from a Key West man, but did not elaborate.
Page's boat was docked at Sunset Marina on Stock Island for an unspecified time prior to Tropical Storm Isaac, when it was anchored near Cow Key Channel in front of Niles Sales & Service of the Keys, according to a marina employee, the Coast Guard and Niles.
Page and the family stayed in a hotel during the storm, Niles said.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers unsuccessfully searched Cow Key Channel for Page's boat, Mullen said.
The local Coast Guard asks anyone with information to call 305-292-8727, or the Coast Guard 7th District command center in Miami at 305-415-6800.