Life jacket found off Block Island

Providence, R.I. –

The Coast Guard is looking for the owner of a life jacket found floating in the water near Block Island. The discovery follows several reports of flare sightings on Tuesday evening.

Coast Guard officials say they are treating this as a search and rescue case.

"Anytime we have multiple reports of flare sightings that leads us to believe there may be someone in distress," says Coast Guard Petty Officer Connie Terrell. "That's how we're treating it until we get any further information otherwise."

A fishing crew found the life jacket about 35 miles southeast of Block Island this morning. Terrell says that location is within the search and rescue area, which extends from Castle Hill, Rhode Island to Martha's Vineyard.

A Falcon Jet crew and a Jayhawk helicopter crew have been looking for signs of a boater in the water since Tuesday night. With average temperatures of about 54 degrees, rescue workers believe there is still a chance that a boater caught in the water overnight could survive.

Coast Guard officials say they are trying to determine whether the life jacket is related to the earlier flare reports. They are asking anyone with information about the life vest or potential lost boater to call the Coast Guard Sector for southeastern New England.

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