Yesterday, the search was called off for missing NFL players Marquis Cooper, Corey Smith and a third person who joined them in a recent fishing trip:
Rescuers had hoped to find the men, Oakland Raiders linebacker Marquis Cooper, free-agent defensive lineman Corey Smith and former South Florida player William Bleakley, alive after picking up one survivor from the Gulf of Mexico on Monday, but eventually decided to call off their search having combed more than 24,000 miles of ocean.
Bleakley’s former South Florida teammate, 24-year-old Nick Schuyler was plucked from the chilly waters having managed to cling on to the party’s 21-foot boat. However, the search was eventually abandoned with Coast Guard Capain Timothy Close satisfied that no other survivors would now be found.
“The families understood that we put in a tremendous effort,” Close explained. “Any search and rescue case we have to stop is disappointing.” The search threw up no signs of the men, with a cooler and a life jacket some 16 miles South-East of the boat the only items that were found.
Family and friends embraced and sobbed outside the Coast Guard station shortly before the announcement that the search was to be abandoned. Lions running back Kevin said of namesake Corey: “He was a good, quiet guy, who always put in an honest day’s work.”
Quarterback Jon Kitna, a former team-mate with the Lions for the past three seasons, added: “It’s a reminder of how life is fragile. Corey was a great dude.”
The four men left Clearwater Pass on a fishing trip early on Saturday in calm weather, but heavy winds picked up through the day and the seas strengthened, with waves of seven feet and higher, peaking at 15 feet on Sunday. The Coast Guard added it had not received a distress signal.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to their family and friends.