Search in Puerto Rico for missing U.S. Marine from Worcester to turn ‘passive,’ government says

LUQUILLO, Puerto Rico — The search in Puerto Rico for a missing U.S. Marine from Worcester will become a “passive search,” a government official in Puerto Rico said Monday.

Crews searched over the weekend in Puerto Rico waters for U.S. Marine Corporal Samuel Wanjiru, 26, who was last seen on Wednesday in the beach area of “La Pared” in Luquillo, Puerto Rico, according to Puerto Rican officials and the Coast Guard.

Wanjiru serves as a Motor Vehicle Operator with MWSS-472, according to the U.S. Marines. He was not in active-duty status or conducting military operations when he went missing in Puerto Rico.

The search for Wanjiru is ongoing as government officials reported two deaths and several incidents of people being rescued after being dragged by powerful sea currents on local beaches, according to the Bureau for Emergency Management and Disaster Administration in Puerto Rico.

The active search for Wanjiru “extended to today,” Bureau for Emergency Management and Disaster Administration Commissioner Nino Correa Filomeno said in a statement on Monday. “From tomorrow onwards, the coastal municipalities nearby will be watching its coasts as part of a passive search.”

“In this search, all resources were used by water, air and from the coast with personnel of the NMEAD and the Ceiba area of the NMEAD, the Municipal Offices of Emergency Management of Luquillo, Ceiba, Juncos, Canovanas, Las Piedras, Arecibo and Vega Baja, FURA of the Police Bureau, Bureau of the Corps of Medical Emergencies, US Coast Guard, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental (DRNA) and volunteers from Luquillo Surf Rescue, as well as chaplains who supported the family. Thanks to all the staff who were looking to this young man,” Correa Filomeno said.

Conditions at sea will remain dangerous until at least midweek, Correa Filomeno said, citing reports from the National Meteorological Service.

“At the beginning of Holy Week, we warned that the beaches would not be suitable for bathers, since the National Weather Service predicted that a storm surge from the north would affect our coasts, specifically the beaches of the west, north and east of the island, including Culebra and Vieques. Today, we regret having to return to the topic of drownings due to several cases that occurred these days,” Correa Filomeno said.

The Coast Guard earlier said the search for Wanjiru involved Watchstanders and an MH60T Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Borinquen. The Coast Guard said it is supporting local agencies in Puerto Rico with the search for Wanjiru.

“High surf and life threatening rip currents continue in western, northern and eastern beaches” of Puerto Rico, the Coast Guard said Saturday. “Beachgoers should stay out of the water until conditions subside.”

Correa Filomeno said that last Wednesday at noon, local authorities managed to remove three people who were swept away by currents in Montones beach, in Isabela. One of them was a 40-year-old man with no vital signs.

That same day, at around 3:47 p.m. in the afternoon, officials learned of Wanjiru’s disappearance on La Pared beach in Luquillo, he said.

An 82-year-old man died in the Dorado resort last Friday, but It was preliminarily reported that it was after suffering a health mishap, officials said.

In several other cases, people have been dragged by strong currents but “could be rescued,” Correa Filomeno said. They include a person at the Mosquito dock, in Vieques; one person was pulled to shore in Sandy Beach, in Rincón; and other people were rescued on La Ruina beach in Aguadilla.

Last Saturday, a person was rescued on Picúas beach in Rio Big, he said.

“And we must remember that many times incidents occur that we do not find out (about) because the citizens themselves help or the bathers can go out on their own. account,” Correa Filomeno said.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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