OGUNQUIT – The intensive search for the body of a Cape Neddick fisherman who has been missing since late Thursday is over, according to authorities.
Maine Marine Patrol Sgt. Robert Beal said the attempt to locate 51-year-old Billy McIntire concluded about 5:30 p.m. Sunday.
Beal said the effort to find the well-known tuna fisherman will continue Monday but on a less rigorous scale.
Beal met with McIntire’s family members Sunday night and they indicated to him that they understood why the search would be scaled back.
“We will mix (the search) into our daily routine,” Beal said. “It’s a very close family and this is a real tragedy.”
The Coast Guard was notified at 11:55 p.m. Thursday that McIntire disappeared while swimming off the 42-foot fishing vessel Clover in Perkins Cove, which is in Ogunquit.
The Coast Guard initially reported that McIntire went swimming with another person, who was able to make it back to the boat.
The Coast Guard launched a search for McIntire in the area around Perkins Cove but the rescue effort was called off at sunset Friday when the Coast Guard said it was unlikely McIntire was still alive.
Beal said McIntire and four others took a late-night cruise. McIntire and a woman jumped into the water near the buoy off Perkins Cove. The three remaining people managed to get the woman back on the boat but could not locate McIntire, Beal said.
Beal said the search team had good witness information about the location where McIntire was last seen. He said three of the witnesses provided a lot of consistent detail, while a fourth witness was intoxicated and did not provide a lot of detail.
Beal said the attempt to recover McIntire’s body involved two days of efforts by a search team from seven agencies that included Maine Marine Patrol divers, a Maine Marine Patrol airplane, the Maine State Police dive team and two vessels equipped with side-scan sonars, which can detect objects on the sea floor.
Beal said the Maine Marine Patrol will now search only when it happens to be in the area on regular patrols.
He said if a body is recovered, the state Medical Examiner’s Office will try to determine the cause of death.
The Maine Marine Patrol airplane flew 1,300 miles and logged more than 20 hours of flight time during the search, Beal said.
McIntire was described by family and friends as popular and well-known in the Perkins Cove section of Ogunquit.
Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:
Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: