Wed, Dec 13, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Aerial search for daughter of NHL great suspended

AP , LUNENBURG, CANADA

The US Coast Guard's aerial search for the daughter of ice hockey great Bob Gainey was suspended on Monday night, three days after she was washed overboard in the Atlantic during a storm while working on a sailing ship bound for the Caribbean.

Laura Gainey was on the deck of the tall ship Picton Castle on Friday night when a large wave swept her overboard. Petty Officer Larry Chambers said the coast guard's search about 700km off Cape Cod was on hold, but the Picton Castle would continue looking for her.

US and Canadian coast guard aircraft had scoured the ocean for Gainey since Friday, Chambers said from US Coast Guard district headquarters in Portsmouth, Virginia, where the search was being coordinated.

The US Coast Guard continued to oversee a search on Monday evening by a merchant vessel and the ship from which Gainey fell, Chambers said. The Canadian Coast Guard aircraft also ended its search on Monday.

The 25-year-old daughter of the Montreal Canadiens' general manager was thrown from the 55m boat on Friday night without a lifejacket.

The water temperature in that part of the mid-Atlantic is about 20oC. The US Coast Guard said Gainey, a strong swimmer wearing protective clothing, could probably survive for about 36 hours. However, Chambers said, after 70 hours in the water "the likelihood of survivability" would "diminish rapidly."

"The reasonable time for survivability has already been expended," Chambers said on Monday.

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