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Reefwalker
04-26-2009, 03:01 AM
By Brett Kelman Pacific Daily News April 23, 2009

The U.S. Coast Guard yesterday afternoon ended the search for a family that reportedly disappeared while boating to Rota on Saturday.
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The search, which has covered more than 5,500 square nautical miles, will resume if there are any new developments, Coast Guard Lt. Elizabeth Buendia said in a news release.

U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Munoz said yesterday that a C-130 plane scanned the ocean while a Navy helicopter scoured shorelines in Rota, Tinian and Saipan.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Washington and smaller boats have been searching day and night almost all week.

Munoz said the plane spotted some debris Tuesday, but when it was collected by the Cutter, plant growth proved that it had been in the water too long to be from the family's boat.

On Saturday, Ray Quichocho called the Saipan Emergency Management Office to report he was encountering big waves and that one of his engines had failed. Quichocho reported that his wife, son and daughter were about 10 miles from Two Lovers Point.

Earlier this week, Buendia called the search "odd" and "unclear" because no one had stepped forward to report the missing family. Munoz said yesterday that Quichocho families on surrounding islands have been accounted for.

"This case highlights the importance of filing an accurate and comprehensive float plan with a trusted friend or family member," Buendia said in the release.

Munoz said the possibility that the emergency call was a hoax -- and that no family was out there to find -- wasn't a factor in the decision of whether or not to keep searching.

Pacific Daily News reporter Dionesis Tamondong contributed to this report.