March 10, 2009

Search for NFL players cost $1.6 mil

The U.S. Coast Guard estimates that it spent about $1.6 million searching the Gulf of Mexico for a missing boat with two NFL players aboard.

The St. Petersburg Times said the three-day search also used manpower and other resources from the U.S. Air Force and Florida state and county agencies that did not provide a tally of their expenses.

The search paid off with the rescue of one man. However, Corey Smith of the Detroit Lions, Marquis Cooper of the Oakland Raiders and a fourth man were still missing Tuesday.

The intensive search used aircraft and boats and covered more than 20,000 square miles in a combined 230 hours, the Coast Guard said.

A Coast Guard spokesman in Washington told the newspaper the effort to locate the capsized boat might have been faster had the vessel been equipped with an automatic emergency locator beacon.

Clay Eavenson, a charter boat owner and a friend of Cooper's, told the Times that Cooper had told him he was planning to purchase such a device but had not done so before the fateful fishing trip.