Search for missing boater called off in Delaware Bay

CAPE MAY POINT, N.J. - April 4, 2013

Rescue boats from the Coast Guard and New Jersey State Police returned to port after sundown Thursday, after spending all day searching for 24-year-old Josh Cattlet.

It was 8:45 a.m. Thursday when the Linda Claire, a 44-foot commercial boat, started taking on water about six miles west of Cape May Point and capsized, sending the three men on board into the bay.

Fishermen from a boat called the Sandra Lee and another boat, the Katherine Brown, were able to rescue two of the men: 25-year-old David Wood and 27-year-old Chris Serra.

"They were cold. They were chilly. They were both mildly hypothermic. But they were both talking and conscious. They were just shook up," said Coast Guard Petty Officer James Pappas.

Fisherman Jon Alexander was on the Sandra Lee and described how he was able to rescue Serra.

"I threw the ring to him twice," said Alexander. "He didn't have the strength to reach it. I had already had it in my mind I was going to go in, and the captain said, 'Someone go in!' And before he even finished the sentence I was already mid-flight in the water. I got to him. He went under just as I got to him. I pulled him up, held him. And I turned back and they had the ring right there for me."

But still unaccounted for was their crewmate, 24-year-old Josh Cattlet of Port Norris. He had left with his friends from the Long Reach Marina in Port Norris at 4:00 a.m. Thursday to troll for conch shells.

The Coast Guard and New Jersey State Police searched for him all day, while the man who saved his crewmates recovers from a frightening day on the water.

"I said a prayer to God. It's a dangerous life, we take that risk, I'm sorry," said fisherman Robert Brown.

The Coast Guard said the Wood and Serra were not wearing life vests and they suspect Cattlet was not either. Officials say with the water temperature in the 40's, maximum survivability is seven hours. They continued their search past sundown before returning.

Family and friends members tell Action News both Wood and Serra have been released from the hospital.

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