Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Missing sailor search suspended

Luke Stimson fell from a yacht in the Pacific Ocean (David Austin Roses/PA)

Rescue crews have stopped searching for a British sailor who fell from a yacht in the Pacific Ocean four days ago.

The US Coast Guard and Navy in Hawaii said they have suspended the search for Luke Stimson after 50 hours, pending new developments.

Mr Stimson plunged into the water about 600 miles west of Midway Atoll at around 11.30pm on Saturday. The search, which was assisted by Navy warship USS Peleliu, has spanned more than 2,300 square miles.

UK authorities reported to the Coast Guard in Hawaii on Saturday night that the 38-year-old had fallen from the yacht conscious and wearing a yellow life jacket. The only other person on board, inexperienced British sailor Laura Venon, was hoisted from the yacht by a rescue helicopter at 5am on Sunday.

Mr Stimson, the Asian director of David Austin Roses in Japan, has been described as a "truly remarkable person".

Prior to the search being called off, the firm said in a statement: "We are a very close company and all know Luke well, so it is a very worrying time. Our thoughts are with his family and we are hoping against hope that he will be found soon. He is a truly remarkable person and a much-valued employee.

"He has been in Japan for the last three years and has done a tremendous amount of work to set up our new Japanese office and rose gardens.

"He's an energetic, resourceful, passionate person with a hands-on approach and has been involved in absolutely everything, from the initial exploration and planning of the Japanese operation through to planting and pruning some of the roses in our rose garden. He is also a very kind person and it says a lot about his character that he called his 38ft yacht Jonetsu which means passion/passionate for life."

The coast guard said it was unclear why Mr Stimson had fallen overboard in conditions which were not particularly bad. The vessel, believed to be privately owned, was about 2,000 miles west of the Hawaiian island of Oahu and 500 miles west of the remote Midway Atoll at the time.

The Pacific News Centre website said there were winds of 25mph and 6ft waves at the time of the incident.

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