Coast Guard searching for missing North Port fisherman

US Coast Guard photo of Jim Winkler's boat.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— The Coast Guard and partner agencies are looking for a missing man, near Jug Creek, Florida, Friday, after he didn’t return home from a fishing trip Thursday evening.

Jim Winkler 62, from North Port is missing.Coast Guard crews found his empty boat Friday morning.

US Coast Guard photo of Jim Winkler's boat.
US Coast Guard photo of Jim Winkler’s boat.

At 12:15 a.m. Friday, watchstanders from Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg received a 911 transfer call from Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office from a woman stating her husband had left the L. Jo Bean Marina in the Myakka River at around 2 p.m. on a 20-foot flats boat and had not returned. She reported Winkler never fished passed 10 p.m.

Watchstanders confirmed Winkler’s last cell phone ping was at 7:01 p.m. just south of Cape Haze, Florida.

An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter air crew from Air Station Clearwater, Florida, and a  29-foot Response Boat Small II  from Station Fort Myers Beach, Florida, were launched to commence the search after activating the Maritime Emergency Response Team in the area.

At 4:46 a.m. the Jayhawk helicopter crew found the flats boat near Jug Creek without Winkler aboard.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Charlotte Harbor Marine Unit, and Lee County Sheriff’s Office are aiding in the search.

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