Man drowns during attempt to swim from Coki Point to Thatch Cay on Saturday night

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ST. THOMAS - The body of a drowned man was recovered near Thatch Cay on Sunday.

The man had set off about 4 p.m. Saturday with a friend to swim from Coki Point to Thatch Cay, according to V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources Environmental Enforcement Assistant Director Jessica Magras Parris.

"His friend made it over, but he didn't," she said.

Ricardo Castrodad, spokesman for the U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Juan, said the federal agency got the call that a swimmer was reported missing the next day.

"We got a call around 10 a.m. Sunday of an individual that had gone swimming with a friend in the area of Coki Point," Castrodad said. "They were caught in the current and separated and the survivor was able to make it to Thatch Cay where he reported spending the night and then got to St. Thomas the next day and made the report."

The Coast Guard was providing support for the St. Thomas International Regatta on the East End, and diverted a vessel from the regatta to help look for the man.

"Around 11 a.m., we located the body of the other swimmer who had been reported missing," Castrodad said. "We were able to recover the body and transfer the person to DPNR personnel via boat to boat transfer."

The body was found near Thatch Cay, he said.

"It's a very unfortunate incident to take place, and our hearts go out to the family and loved ones," Castrodad said.

Parris said additional information is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

Seas were very rough over the weekend, the result of a serious winter storm in the northeastern United States. National Weather Service meteorologist Luis Rosa said the seas were highest Friday. A buoy six miles north of Puerto Rico recorded 13 foot waves.

"The worse conditions were actually on Friday, but it lingered through the weekend," he said.

The storm in the northeast generated hurricane force winds, clocked up to 139 mph in Nova Scotia, Rosa said. On Cape Cod, a weather buoy reported 52½ foot waves and winds close to 100 mph.

"It took two days basically to get from the New England waters all the way down here to the Caribbean," he said.

A high surf advisory was in effect over the weekend, a Weather Service warning that is triggered if breaking waves reach 10 feet, Rosa said.

"All that swell energy has dissipated," he said.

Castrodad said people having fun out on the water should always tell someone on shore where they are going and when they plan to be back.

"Let a loved one onshore know and if you don't hear from us at a certain time, please call the authorities because I might be in trouble," Castrodad said.

- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email

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