The New Jersey State Police continue to lead the multi-agency search for a missing man whose boat was discovered approximately one mile off the Wildwood coast late yesterday morning. The 23-foot center console Nautic Star boat named Rock N Reel was reported by another boater as unoccupied and adrift shortly before 11:00 a.m. Monday morning. Fishing poles were in place, the keys were in the ignition and the engine was down in the water, but there was no sign of the owner/operator.
The boat is owned by Jason Sill, 39, of Cape May Court House. Witnesses reported seeing Sill take his boat out from Pier 47 Marina around 9:30 a.m. He was alone and told others at the pier that he intended on fishing in the back bay.
The U.S. Coast Guard located the boat based on the caller’s report and a State Police boat then towed it back to the Cape May Coast Guard base where State Police Crime Scene Investigators performed a forensic evidence search. Nothing suspicious was discovered. Troopers from the Troop A Criminal Investigation Office also interviewed numerous people.
A command post for the search was quickly established at the State Police Marine Station on Chestnut Avenue in North Wildwood. The search on the water involved NJSP boats and a helicopter, USCG boats and a helicopter, and personal watercraft from several beach patrols. The search was suspended at dark and resumed early this morning. State Police boats today are using side-scan sonar to look at the ocean bottom and T.E.A.M.S. (Technical Emergency And Mission Specialists unit of the State Police) divers are on boats in case they are needed. Middle Township divers are also on standby.
The water temperature is in the upper 70s and the surface today is choppy. The depth ranges between 20 and 30 feet in the area where the boat was located. Weather has prevented an effective air search today, but helicopters will resume the search as soon as conditions allow it.
Other partnering agencies include the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office and Office of Emergency Management, Avalon Police Department, Wildwood, North Wildwood and Wildwood Crest Beach Patrols.
Updates to this search will be provided as necessary.