ST. TAMMANY PARISH, La. (WGNO) — The search for missing Mandeville man Billy Coile in St. Tammany Parish has been called off. Detectives say his unoccupied boat was found floating in Lake Pontchartrain Sunday morning.
The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office says deputies received a call from the Causeway Police Department around 8:30 a.m. Sunday, stating that an empty boat was found below the Causeway Bridge at mile marker 23.
The boat, a 12-14 foot Boston Whaler, was registered to a man who let his friend, 44-year-old Billy Coile use it to go fishing on Saturday afternoon. Coile’s truck, detectives say, was found Sunday morning at the Mandeville Harbor.
Both an aerial and marine search of the lake began and ended Sunday, then picked back up Monday evening. Around 10 p.m., the USCG announced the search had been called off after more than 16 hours of searching more than 230 nautical square miles.
“Making the decision to suspend a search and rescue case is never an easy one and it’s only made after careful consideration of factors involved in each case,” said USCG Lt. Cmdr. Lauren Keefe. “We offer our deepest sympathies to the family during this difficult time.”
The search was a joint effort between the STPSO, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
Although the search was suspended, authorities continue to investigate Coile’s disappearance. Detectives are asking anyone who has any additional information that could help locate Coile to contact the STPSO at 985-898-2338.
We’re told a GoFundMe has been established to help Coile’s family hire a search and rescue team and support his wife and two children. To donate, click here.
A rosary service will be held at 3 p.m. Tuesday for Coile at the Mary Queen of Peache Catholic Church. The church is located at 1501 W. Causeway Approach in Mandeville.