Harbor Patrol resumes search for missing Newport boater

Point Harbor

The Orange County Sheriff's Department Harbor Patrol resumed its search Thursday morning for the missing Newport Beach man whose sailboat was found aground in Laguna Beach early Wednesday, authorities said.

TheU.S. Coast Guardhad two helicopters and a boat combing the area Wednesday, but called off its search for Andrew Szaz, 74, by the end of the day, said sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino.

Szaz left his home about noon Tuesday and went to Dana Point Harbor, where Babe, his 28-foot boat, was docked, Amormino said.

When Szaz, an experienced sailor, didn't return by 11:30 p.m. that day, his wife reported him missing to the Newport Beach Police Department.

At 2:20 a.m. Wednesday a resident reported seeing the boat from his house, Laguna Beach Police Department Lt. Jason Kravetz wrote in an email. The man told police that the boat "appeared to have beached itself on Main Beach."

Officers and marine safety personnel found that the boat was empty, but that its sail was up and its lights were on, Kravetz said.

Laguna police then contacted the Harbor Patrol, which had been notified about Szaz and his missing boat.

Babe's mast was found damaged, and investigators initially believed it occurred when the vessel ran aground, but Amormino said it could have been damaged already.

"There's a possibility the mast wasn't working before and he tried to fix it and fell in," Amormino said.

Babe was towed back to Dana Point Harbor by the Harbor Patrol, according to a news release by the Laguna Beach Police Department.

The Harbor Patrol plans to continue searching for Szaz for at least a week or more.

Sheriff's Department homicide investigators are also conducting a missing person's investigation, Amormino said.

mona.shadia@latimes.com

Twitter: @MonaShadia

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