Boater reported missing found at San Diego hospital after nurse sees news report about him

Posted at 5:33 AM, Feb 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-23 09:06:57-05

SAN DIEGO - An Orange County man who was reported missing after his small motorboat was found in Mission Bay later turned up in a San Diego hospital, ending a two-day ocean search, authorities said.

A nurse at Scripps Mercy Hospital saw a news report about the search Wednesday and realized the boater, 36-year-old Garrett Ferguson of Huntington Beach, was a patient there, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. Authorities did not say why he was hospitalized.

"We commend the media for their widespread coverage and the attentiveness of the hospital staff," said Cmdr. Rob Potter, Response Chief at Coast Guard Sector San Diego. "Because of their vigilance a family will be reunited and that is the success here."

The search efforts began after San Diego lifeguards found an empty 6-foot dinghy floating about a mile west of the harbor late Tuesday morning. It contained a diving mask, swim fins and identification belonging to Ferguson, according to the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard cutter Haddock, a 45-foot response boat and two helicopters participated in the search, along with city lifeguards and Navy and U.S. Customs and Border Protection aircraft, according to the Coast Guard.