Missing NFL Players: Capsized Boat, One Person Found
The US Coast Guard has found a capsized boat with one person clinging to it during its search off the Florida coast for four people, including two NFL players.
Oakland Raiders linebacker Marquis Cooper and NFL free agent Corey Smith, who had played for the Detroit Lions, went for a fishing trip off Clearwater on Saturday. When they did not return the Coast Guard launched a search on early Sunday morning.
Reports said the person who had been found clinging to the boat was Nick Schuyler, a former University of South Florida football player. He was taken to Tampa General Hospital.
The fourth person on board was William Bleakley, another ex-football player from the University of South Florida.
There was no word on the fate of the three remaining people.
The US Coast Guard said it would continue the search through the night.
Rolling updates are being provided by the St Petersburg Times.
Officials said that a 21-foot fishing boat left Clearwater at approximately 6:30 am local time on Saturday and did not return at its scheduled time later in the day.
The boat was reported missing at about 1:30 am Sunday. Officials stated that gulf waters were "extremely choppy" and believed that the boat is "in distress."
Wind gusts up to 72 kilometres per hour (45 mph) and waves reaching up to 10 feet high had hampered the search, according to the Coast Guard.
Smith and Cooper were teammates with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the 2004 season and former college teammates at the nearby University of South Florida.
Smith, 29, appeared in 12 games with the Lions this past season, his seventh in the NFL.
Cooper, 26, played in eight games with the Raiders last year. He has played in 42 career games over parts of five seasons with seven different teams.