SALISBURY — The Coast Guard spent almost three hours yesterday afternoon searching for the owner of an inner tube after the flotation device was spotted off the coast by beach-goers on Salisbury Beach.

But according to Petty Officer First Class Ben Molnar, the 14-year-old owner had previously abandoned the inner tube and safely swum back to shore.

Using its 47-foot-long motor boat, the Coast Guard searched a large chunk of the coastline ranging from 200 yards to 2 1/2 miles offshore. The search began at 2:25 p.m. and ended a little past 5 p.m. Aiding in the search were Salisbury beach lifeguards, according to Molnar. The inner tube was found by the Coast Guard roughly a mile offshore.

"(The teen was) never in distress, he was fine," Molnar said.

Molnar said similar scenarios can be avoided if those who abandon flotation devices such as inner tubes or rafts call authorities when they get back to shore. That way, he said, when people spot the device and call the Coast Guard, officers will know the owner is safe.

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