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U.S. Coast Guard Cited Missing U.K. Woman's Boyfriend For Obstructing A Boarding During Search Of Boat In Virgin Islands
Sarm Heslop had been traveling in the Virgin Islands with her boyfriend Ryan Bane when she mysteriously vanished on March 7.
The United States Coast Guard cited the boyfriend of missing U.K. Sarm Heslop, who disappeared aboard his U.S. yacht in the Virgin Islands last month, for multiple infractions including “obstruction of a boarding.”
Heslop was last seen in public at a bar with Ryan Bane, her American boyfriend, around 10 p.m. on March 7, according to Fox News. Virgin Islands Police initially reported that Heslop had gone back to the vessel Siren Song, which had been moored off the coast of St. John later that night, but are now saying they can’t confirm that account.
“Investigators cannot confirm with certainty, if and when Ms. Heslop boarded the Siren Song on March 7,” the department said, according to the BBC.
Bane reported Heslop missing to police around 2:30 a.m. on March 8, but quickly hired a lawyer, stopped cooperating with police and refused to allow them aboard the boat to search for the missing woman, local authorities have said.
Bane also called the U.S. Coast Guard to assist with the investigation, but not until 11:46 a.m. on March 8, more than nine hours after the initial report, a spokesman for the Coast Guard District 7 told Oxygen.com.
“On March 8, following a search of the bay and shoreline from both a helicopter and small boat, a routine follow-on vessel safety check of the sailing vessel Siren Song was conducted,” Petty Officer Groll told Oxygen.com. “The Coast Guard went aboard to ensure proper equipment and compliance with applicable rules and regulations for vessel type and operation.”
This type of inspection is often completed in a search and rescue case to confirm the boat complies with safety rules and regulations, Groll said.
“The vessel operator was cited for multiple violations, including failure to provide a certificate of documentation for the vessel, obstruction of a boarding, and safety equipment violations,” Groll said.
Coast Guard officials told Fox News that Bane had blocked the crew from inspecting the interior spaces of the boat.
Bane’s attorney, David Cattie, has previously told Fox News that his client had reported the disappearance to police and that “multiple USCG officers” later boarded the boat and “conducted a search of the vessel for Ms. Heslop later that morning.”
The Coast Guard has since suspended the active maritime search after finding no sign of Heslop, whose personal belongings remained aboard the vessel.
The Virgin Islands Police, with the aid of the FBI and police in the U.K., continue to search for the missing woman and are interviewing witnesses who may have interacted with the couple.
Bane, who has not been named a suspect or person of interest in the case, was arrested for domestic abuse in Michigan in 2011 after his ex-wife told deputies that he had “grabbed her in the dining room, threw her to the ground, and smashed her head into the floor, chipping one of her teeth,” according to an Oakland County Sheriff’s Office report obtained by Oxygen.com.
Cattie has said Bane is hoping for Heslop’s safe return.