Search for two missing boaters now a recovery effort: New Jersey State Police

A boater was rescued by a good Samaritan, but two more remain unaccounted for.

Trish Hartman Image
Tuesday, November 16, 2021
Search for two missing boaters now a recovery effort, state police say
The search for two boaters who went missing over the weekend in the Delaware River has been suspended for the day, officials said Monday.

NATIONAL PARK, New Jersey (WPVI) -- New Jersey state police said Monday the search for two missing boaters, who vanished after their boat capsized in the Delaware River, is now a recovery effort.

For a third day, search crews from New Jersey State Police, county and local entities searched the Delaware River for two boaters who went missing Saturday afternoon.

Officials say a distress call came in around 3 p.m. Saturday when a 19-foot recreational boat started taking on water near Red Bank Battlefield Park in National Park, N.J.

One of the boaters was saved by a good Samaritan near the Eagle Point Refinery on Saturday. State Police say he was treated and released.

But two others, now identified as Joseph McLaughlin, 24, and Brian Palangi, 26 are still missing.

Officials say both men are from Deptford.

On Monday, search and rescue boats navigated the choppy waters, launching from a boat ramp in West Deptford as family members of the missing men looked on.

Smaller search and rescue boats had to be pulled back because of the rough conditions.

Around 2 p.m. Monday the search was suspended for the day.

"The wind is the biggest problem. We've been dealing with gusts this afternoon actually increasing at times over 35 miles per hour, so you have the gusty winds, you have a lot of choppy winds on the water which makes it difficult for anybody to operate any kind of boat right now," said Action News meteorologist Brittany Boyer. "And on top of that, it's a really cold day out there. The Delaware River is only in the 40s, the air temp is only in the 40s so officials are definitely up against a lot of challenges."

It's unclear if the search will continue Tuesday.

The cause of the boat capsizing is still under investigation, but officials said over the weekend they suspect bad weather played a role.