MONHEGAN ISLAND, Maine — The U.S. Coast Guard and local agencies are searching for a 32-year-old man who was swept off Gull Rock about 1 p.m. Friday.
The Coast Guard also has issued an urgent marine information broadcast requesting anyone in the area to keep a lookout for the missing man.
It has urged mariners and beach-goers to use extreme caution due to significant surge and rip currents in the area caused by Hurricane Katia.
The man, whose name and hometown have not been released, was with four other people climbing on rocks and ledges off the island, according to Lt. Colleen McCusker. He was attempting to access some caves when he was swept away by a wave, she said.
“We are receiving tremendous help from multiple crews assisting in this case,” said McCusker, who is the recreational boating safety officer for northern New England. “We hope that will lead to a successful search.”
Crews from the Maine Marine Patrol, Monhegan Island Volunteer Fire Department, and good Samaritans aboard a kayak, dory, lobster vessel, the recreational vessel Balmy Days, and the ferry Elizabeth Ann have assisted with the search.
After the man was swept off the island, four of his friends entered the water and swam about 300 yards to Gull Rock in an attempt to rescue him before losing sight of him. Three of his companions were able to make it off Gull Rock safely at low tide about 3:30 p.m., according to a press release issued by the Coast Guard. The fourth person, who did not report any injuries, was hoisted from the ledge.
The five friends were reportedly on the island to attend a wedding party when the incident occurred.
Coast Guard members based in South Portland were conducting the search with a 47-foot motorized lifeboat and helicopter, McCusker said. The 87-foot patrol boat, based in Woods Hole, Mass., from Portsmouth Harbor, N.H., was expected to join the search.
McCusker cautioned swimmers caught in a rip current to remain calm and swim parallel to the shore.
“Don’t fight the current,” she said. “If you can’t reach shore, float or tread water until you are out of the current. We also recommend that, whenever possible, wear a life jacket while on the water and never swim alone.”