Coast Guard Suspends Search for Missing Paddleboarder with 'Heavy Hearts': 'Never an Easy Decision'

Luciano Mercenari, 29, went paddleboarding and has been reported missing since June 24

<p>Luciano Mercenari/Facebook</p> Luciano Mercenari

Luciano Mercenari/Facebook

Luciano Mercenari

The U.S. Coast Guard has announced that the search for a man who went missing near the Miami area earlier this week has now been suspended.

On Thursday, June 27, the U.S. Coast Guard confirmed that it had suspended the search for 29-year-old Luciano Mercenari, a paddleboarder reported missing since June 24 via a press release.

"Suspending an active search and rescue case is never an easy decision, and so it is with heavy hearts that we offer our sincere condolences to Mr. Mercenari’s family and friends,” Capt. Chris Cederholm, commanding officer of Coast Guard Sector Miami said in the release. “We are grateful to our local and state partners for their assistance in this united effort.”

Related: Coast Guard Suspends Search for Missing Crew Members of Capsized Ship Off Louisiana Coast

Rescue crews searched approximately 2,219 square miles, an area about the size of the state of Delaware, and approximately 67 asset hours, the release said.

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<p>U.S. Coast Guard Southeast/Facebook</p> U.S. Coast Guard vessel

U.S. Coast Guard Southeast/Facebook

U.S. Coast Guard vessel

Around 5:15 p.m. local time on June 24, Mercenari left his family’s home in Key Biscayne to go paddleboarding and never returned, according to local outlet WSVN.

Related: Coast Guard Suspends Search for 34 Missing People Who Vanished off Fla. Coast, Fears No More Survivors

Mercenari’s cousin, Allegra Jacchia previously took to social media to plead for help with his return. “We really need help with drones and planes from Orlando to Palm Beach. We need all the help we can get. Today, it’s going to be almost 72 hours since we lost him and, you know, every minute is critical,” Jacchia said, per WSVN.

The U.S. Coast Guard confirmed it utilized multiple search efforts in their attempt to locate Mercenari. “Sector Miami watchstanders issued an urgent marine information broadcast and launched surface and air crews to conduct searches alongside state and local partner agencies,” the Coast Guard said in the release.

Related: Search for 4 Fishermen Suspended After Boat Vanishes Off Florida Gulf Coast

A paddleboard and waterproof gear bag were both found by “a good Samaritan approximately 4 miles off Haulover Inlet on Tuesday morning,” according to the release. That person then reported what they found and the Coast Guard later determined that the discovered items were “related to this case.”

The Coast Guard is asking anyone with new information regarding Mercenari’s disappearance to contact the Coast Guard Sector Miami at 305-535-4300.

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