OCEANSIDE - A fishing boat belonging to a missing Oceanside resident was found unoccupied and circling under its own power off the coast of La Jolla early Tuesday as a multi-agency effort to find the man continued for a second day.
The man's sister, Angie Richards, told 10News that family members are hoping for a happy ending but admitted there have been a lot of tears as the search for her brother continues.
Loren Ruden, 52, and his dog, a black Labrador mix, left the Oceanside Harbor sometime Monday on his 21-foot fishing boat called "Lucky Dog."
An occupant of a commercial tugboat spotted Ruden's boat roughly 10 miles from shore about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, USCG Petty Officer Connie Gawrelli said.
A boat crew with the federal maritime agency pulled alongside the 21-foot skiff, boarded it and turned off the engine, then towed the vessel to the waters off Oceanside, where the police department's Harbor Division took over the Del Mar Basin, just inside Camp Pendleton.
"Everything looked normal when we brought it in, so it's a big mystery right now as to what exactly happened," said Sgt. Jeff Brandt, who helped tow the skiff to the dock, where family members and FBI investigators were waiting.
After a thorough examination of the boat, it was released to Ruden's family members, who loaded it on its trailer and drove it away.
Brandt said there were no obvious signs of foul play, nor were there any fishing poles aboard.
The Coast Guard earlier reported that Ruden may be wearing a life vest, but Brandt said he did not believe a vest was missing.
When asked whether Ruden may have fallen overboard or suffered a medical emergency, Brandt said, "Nothing is out of the scope of possibility at this point."
The FBI is investigating because the boat was in U.S. territorial waters, within 12 miles of the coast. The Oceanside Police Department is assisting in the probe.
At this point, there is no evidence that a crime has been committed, but investigators must look at everything until they determine what happened to Ruden.
Ruden was reported missing late Monday afternoon after his dog, which had been with him, swam to shore near an Oceanside jetty. A beachgoer caught the animal and called the telephone number on its collar tag.
How and where the animal had left the boat was a mystery, officials said.
Oceanside harbor police then began searching the ocean and shoreline for the missing man, and the Coast Guard joined in the effort several hours later.
In addition to the two USCG helicopter crews, including one based in Los Angeles, personnel aboard the cutter Edisto scanned the seas through the day.
The Coast Guard plans to continue its search throughout the night.