WILDWOOD — Searchers continued to look Friday for the Middle Township police officer last seen Monday morning leaving a local marina on his sport-fishing boat.
Patrolman Jason Sill, 39, of Cape May Court House, left the Pier 47 Marina at about 9:30 a.m. Monday after telling people he was going to fish in the backbays. His 23-foot boat Rock-n-Reel was found empty and adrift in the open ocean, one mile off this resort, at about 10:45 a.m.
After more than four days in the water, it would seem unlikely that Sill could still be alive but Friday, Middle Township Police Chief Chris Leusner said some are still hopeful.
“I think there are some people hoping for a miracle. They recognize for him to still be alive, it would be a miracle,” Leusner said.
Boats from New Jersey State Police and Middle Township police continued searching Friday, concentrating on the water’s surface. The State Police was previously using sonar technology to search the bottom of the ocean and the water column but finished that search Thursday, said State Police Lt. Stephen Jones.
“We’re still searching out there. The Coast Guard gave us a grid based on wind and drift patterns. Now we’re searching on the surface,” Jones said Friday.
Numerous people have also been interviewed by the State Police, which has jurisdiction in the case because Sill’s boat was found in New Jersey waters. Detectives, he said, are pursuing all possibilities.
“We don’t make a hard assumption that the victim is in the water. The investigation is not limited to a search of the water. In an investigation like this, we try not to limit ourselves,” Jones said.
State Police have done a forensic investigation of the boat and found nothing suspicious. The vessel was found with the key in the ignition and the throttle in the forward position but the engine was not running.
If Sill did fall into the water, Jones said there is no guarantee his body would ever be found. Authorities are not sure if he was wearing a life preserver.
Leusner said the department is in a very somber mood. Sill is a decorated 13-year veteran with the department and formerly worked as Class II police officer in Wildwood and West Wildwood. His wife, Madonna, is a police dispatcher with the department.
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