On Wednesday evening, the Coast Guard suspended the search for a 9-year-old child and a suspected smuggler believed to have been swept out to sea after their rickety boat capsized off Florida.

The Haitian child and the suspected smuggler, a Bahamian citizen, went missing after their 18-foot boat overturned with 11 people on board Sunday in what authorities believe was an underworld operation from Freeport to Miami.

Coast Guard officials in Miami said that a good Samaritan vessel had fished nine people from the water on Sunday nearly 53 nautical miles east of the Palm Beach County shoreline, about the midway point between Freeport and Jupiter, Florida.

That triggered a 69-hour search over 4,154 square miles that included Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules planes from Air Station Clearwater, an HC-144 Ocean Sentry medium range surveillance aircraft from Air Station Miami and the cutters Robert Yered from Miami; Moray from Port Canaveral; and Ridley from Mayport.

“This case is a tragic reminder of the dangers of illegal migrant smuggling and these smuggling networks reckless regard for those they are trafficking. Suspending a search is one of the most difficult decisions we have to make as first responders, and it is never made lightly,” said Capt. Aldante Vinciguerra, Coast Guard 7th District chief of response, in a written statement emailed to Navy Times.

Late Wednesday on the other side of the globe, Coast Guard officials on Wake Island also suspended their search for five survivors of a New Year’s Eve fire on board the car carrier Sincerity Ace.

Four bodies had been found bobbing in the waves about 1,800 nautical miles northwest of Oahu but they were unresponsive and made no effort to grasp lifesaving equipment.

A fifth missing mariner was never spotted, despite a search that canvassed 5,832 square nautical miles of ocean and involved two HC-130 Hercules surveillance planes from Oahu’s Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point, five commercial vessels and a P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft from the Navy’s Patrol Squadron 47 that’s deployed to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa.

Like the Coast Guard planes, the Navy’s Golden Swordsmen also staged at Wake and flew two very long flights on Tuesday and Wednesday, locating a lifeboat adrift on the high seas with no one in it, plus a pair of abandoned lifebuoys.

Four commercial vessels rescued 16 of the crew members of the Sincerity Ace, which remains abandoned, burning, adrift and listing to starboard.

“Following the conclusion of morning and afternoon searches by our aircraft and commercial vessels we suspended the active search. This is always a difficult decision and takes many factors into account,” said Chief Petty Officer Dennis Vetrano, with Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center Honolulu.

"We extend our condolences to the families and loved ones of the crew members affected by this tragedy.”

Coast Guard watchstanders in Honolulu have issued an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast Notice to Mariners requesting vessels transiting the area to keep a sharp lookout for the missing Sincerity Ace crew member.

Tugs have been sent by the vessel’s owner to salvage it.

One of the Coast Guard HC-130s involved in the Sincerity Ace rescue was diverted Wednesday to the Marshall Islands after a 308-foot Chinese-flagged commercial fishing vessel, the Ou Ya Leng Number 6, ran aground on Taka Atoll and began taking on water.

Coast Guard officials told Navy Times that the air crew made contact with the Chinese mariners, who remained on board the vessel while using emergency generator power.

They awaited the Thursday arrival of the patrol vessel Lomor sent by the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Norwegian crude oil tanker Andrea Victory and a pair fishing boats.

Prine came to Navy Times after stints at the San Diego Union-Tribune and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

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