The Coast Guard stopped looking for Middle Township Patrolman Jason Sill of Cape May Court House in the waters off Wildwood at 10 p.m. Tuesday. But state police crews continued to look for him on Wednesday and will resume their efforts on Thursday morning.
The officer, a decorated 13-year veteran of the force, has been missing since around 12:00 p.m. Monday when his empty 23-foot fishing boat called "Rock-n-Reef" was found in the ocean off Wildwood. "I just feel so bad for the family and everything that they don't know what happened," North Cape May resident Sue Mercier said.
The 39-year-old Sill of Cape May Courthouse is married and has an 18-year-old daughter. His wife Madonna is a Middle Township police dispatcher.
"He's a great kid. Always smiling, happy, you know, a nice guy," Sam Repici of Middle Township said.
A team of Middle Township officers returned to headquarters around noon Tuesday. Their 17-foot search and rescue boat was too small to handle the rough and windy conditions in the ocean.
"This is a tough time for the Sill family, the Middle Township Police Department and we are grateful for all the efforts of New Jersey State Police and the U.S. Coast Guard," Middle Township Police Chief Chris Leusner said.
Friends say Sill is an avid fisherman who usually takes a companion when he take his boat out.
"Everybody was saying the same thing. He just doesn't usually fish by himself, so it was very strange," Bud Dunham of Middle Township said.
When his boat was found there were two fishing poles in it. The keys were in the ignition. The engine was down and the throttle was pushed forward.
Rick Traber, the Pier 47 Marina owner, believes Sill was using a safety device that cuts the engine if the boat driver leaves the controls.
"If you were jolted, it would fall off and shut the motor off," Traber said.
Anyone with information regarding the boater's whereabouts is asked to contact the Coast Guard at 215-271-4940.