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Coast Guard Calls Off Hunt for 2 in S.F. Bay

From Associated Press

The U.S. Coast Guard halted its search for a tourist, who jumped overboard into the San Francisco Bay during a Valentine’s Day dinner cruise, and the guard who tried to save him.

The search for a Georgia 20-year-old and a cruise security guard will not be resumed, the Coast Guard said.

Friends of Tavaris Willis of Marietta, Ga., told Coast Guard investigators they had no idea why he jumped overboard around 2 a.m. Saturday without warning, said Petty Officer Jeffrey Alger. Willis had not been drinking and did not seem distraught, they said.

Ricardo Ortega Jr., 28, a San Francisco security guard working on the Jack London Commodore, jumped into the Oakland Estuary after him, Alger said.

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The boat immediately turned and headed back to where Ortega’s flashlight was seen last. But crew members failed to find any sign of the men.

Aided by the San Francisco and Oakland fire departments, the Coast Guard searched the waters from Hunters Point to Bay Farm Island through the night and until sunset Saturday by boat and by helicopter.

A person could survive up to six hours in the 50-degree waters of the San Francisco Bay, Alger said. The current was traveling about 2 1/2 mph at the time, enough to sweep a strong swimmer out of the estuary, he said.

“It was a tragedy that never should have happened,” said Capt. Ward Hornblower Proescher, one of four captains aboard the yacht.

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He called Ortega a hero for jumping in after Willis.

“When I see courage and bravery like that, I draw back in reverence,” Proescher said. “This man is a hero. Who the hell else would have gone in there like that? . . . What he did was incredible.”


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