PORTSMOUTH, Va. – The Coast Guard concluded its search for a Norfolk man after he was located alive near Machipongo Sunday.
Wesley Schoonmaker was discovered by a good Samaritan after Schoonmaker came ashore with his raft at a Machipongo beach near the person’s home and walked into their backyard. The good Samaritan called Eastern Shore 911 Dispatch who, along with an Accomack County sheriff’s deputy, notified the Coast Guard.
Schoonmaker originally launched his raft near Willoughby Spit Saturday and said he was immediately blown away from the shore. Overnight he drifted north with his raft until he landed in Machipongo.
Schoonmaker was reported to be windburned but in stable condition and was transported to Riverside Hospital in Onley by local EMS.
The Norfolk Police Department notified the Coast Guard at about 5 p.m. on Saturday that 49-year-old Wesley Schoonmaker was last seen departing his Norfolk residence wearing a full wetsuit. He had stated that he planned to test out a new oar by paddling his 8-foot yellow and dark blue raft near Willoughby Spit in Norfolk.
“We appreciate the team effort from different agencies and stations during the search,” said Coast Guard Lt.j.g. Bradley S. Milliken, command duty officer at the Sector Hampton Roads Command Center in Portsmouth. “We’re glad he’s okay.”
Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City launched an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew and a C-130 Hercules aircraft crew to assist with search operations. The Coast Guard Cutter Mako and response boats from Coast Guard Stations Milford Haven, Cape Charles and Little Creek also searched.
They were joined by a Naval Station Norfolk Chambers Field SH-60 Seahawk helicopter crew and Virginia Marine Police crews in the 33-hour search covering 1,438 miles.