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Wednesday
Mar152017

Colorado State student, boat crew member missing off Florida coast

iStock/Thinkstock(ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.) -- Authorities are combing the waters near St. Petersburg, Florida, for two men -- a Colorado State University student and a boat crew member -- who went missing Tuesday evening, officials said.

The missing student was among 15 from Colorado who had taken a charter boat -- a 71-foot yacht -- during spring break, the Coast Guard said.

Five students went swimming off the side of the boat while it was anchored, but only four were able to swim back to the boat, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said.

The crew member jumped in the water to help the student, and authorities think the wind, waves and current kept the men from reaching the boat, according to the sheriff’s office. Neither man was wearing a flotation device, the sheriff’s office said.

The incident happened at about 6 p.m. and the men have been missing since, the sheriff’s office said.

The Coast Guard identified the crew member as 27-year-old Andrew Dillman, of New York, and the student as 21-year-old Jie Lou of China.

The ongoing search is in the Pass-a-Grille Channel, which is near the Gulf of Mexico and Florida's St. Pete Beach.

A Coast Guard spokesman told ABC News that Coast Guard crew members are searching "fervently" Wednesday by air and sea.

Mike Hooker, executive director of Public Affairs and Communications at Colorado State University, told ABC News in a statement, "The safety and well-being of our students is our top priority and we are very concerned to hear of what has happened in Florida."

"The thoughts and hope of our CSU community are for the safety of our students involved in this incident, with the missing student and charter mate and families and friends of those involved, and for the safety of rescue crews who are involved in the search," he added.

Lt. Jason Holstead, the command duty officer for the Coast Guard's Sector St. Petersburg, said, "Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Andrew and Jie during this difficult time. We continue work closely with our partners to search for Andrew and Jie, all of us have them and their family in our thoughts and prayers."

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