Search for Aspen man expands |

Search for Aspen man expands

LONG KEY, Fla. ” The U.S. Coast Guard has expanded its search for Aspenite Christopher Smith, 57, whose 20-foot boat was found idling adrift with no one on board in the Florida Keys on Tuesday morning.

Smith, former owner of Aspen Earthmoving, where he still serves in an advisory role, is a longtime local. He is married to Toni Zurcher.

Jeff Hale, executive vice president of Aspen Earthmoving, said members of Smith’s family are either in Florida or on their way.

Smith’s Boston Whaler was found in shallow water a few miles north of Long Key on Tuesday. The U.S. Coast Guard is in charge of the search and is currently utilizing a C-130 search plane and two search helicopters, as well as numerous boats.

“We are extending the search,” said Coast Guard Lt. j.g. Mike Bell. “We are looking in all possible areas where Mr. Smith may be.”

The Coast Guard is mainly looking on the Gulf of Mexico side of Long Key, an island in the middle of the 110 mile-long Florida Keys. Bell said the search area is roughly from the Middle Keys toward the Florida mainland.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department are both helping in the search. A Monroe County spokesperson said that Smith’s family has filed a missing persons report.

Weather has mostly been sunny in the area, though there have been thunderstorms in the Keys and more thunderstorms are predicted Wednesday and Thursday.

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