Search for Missing James River Boater Called Off

UPDATE: Virginia Marine Police recovered the body of the missing boater, 34-year-old Russell Hines of Surry County, on the James River near the Mount Pleasant Plantation on Thursday, May 6. A citizen spotted Hines’ remains and Virginia Marine Police recovered them. The investigation is ongoing. Marine Police Deputy Commissioner Ellen Bolen spokesperson says, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the friends and families of the deceased.”

Emergency responders from 11 agencies have been searching tirelessly for a 34-year-old boat owner, missing since Monday morning on the James River. But the Coast Guard announced Tuesday afternoon it would call off its search operation.

Crews from the 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Dolphin, Station Portsmouth and Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina, searched a total of 234 square miles and a total of 45 hours.

The Coast Guard says 34-year-old Russell Hines was reported overdue Monday morning, and his 29-foot boat was found aground with the engine running in the James, near Gray’s Creek in Williamsburg, with signs that someone had recently been aboard.

A rescue helicopter crew searched from the air. The James City County fire and police departments, Virginia Marine Resources Commission and the Department of Wildlife Resources, West Point Volunteer Fire Department, Prince Geroge’s and York County fire departments, Newport News fire department, Surry County Sheriff’s Office, and the Port of Virginia Maritime Incident Response Team all helped in the search.

“We grieve with Mr. Hines’s loved ones and offer them our deepest condolences,” says Cmdr. Jason Ingram, Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator for Coast Guard Sector Virginia. “Thank you to all of our crew members and local partner agencies for your efforts. We are suspending this search with very heavy hearts. I ask that all boaters please use all available safety measures on the water including engine disabling switches, life jackets, locator beacons, and float plans.”

Anyone with any information about Russell Hines’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Sector Virginia Command Center at (757) 483-8567.

Bay Bulletin will continue to follow any new developments in Hines’ disappearance.

-Meg Walburn Viviano