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Search ends for NFL players lost off Fla. coast
CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP)—After three days of combing 24,000 miles of ocean, the Coast Guard on Tuesday stopped searching for two NFL players and a third man lost in rough, chilly Gulf of Mexico waters off the Florida coast.
Oakland Raiders linebacker Marquis Cooper, free-agent defensive lineman Corey Smith, who played with the Detroit Lions last season, and former South Florida player William Bleakley, had been missing since Saturday when their boat capsized during a fishing trip.
Bleakley’s father said he thought the Coast Guard did everything it could and that his expectations lowered after only one survivor was found Monday, nearly two days after the four friends were knocked out of their 21-foot boat.
“I think they were not to be found,” Robert Bleakley said.
Coast Guard Capt. Timothy Close said officials were sure that if there were any more survivors, they would have been found.
Crews did rescue Bleakley’s former South Florida teammate, 24-year-old Nick Schuyler, who managed to stay with the boat.
Scott Miller, a friend of the college teammates, said Schuyler told him that on the first night, a chopper shone a light right above them and that later on, as they continued to drift, he could even see lights from the shore.