The U.S. Coast Guard late Monday suspended its search for three missing fishermen who apparently lost their lives after the New Bedford scalloper F/V Leonardo went down in heavy seas on Sunday afternoon.

The Leonardo activated a distress signal at 3:18 p.m. Sunday and the rescue operation for the 56-foot commercial vessel commenced in an area 24 miles off Martha's Vineyard. One man, identified by the Coast Guard as Ernesto Santos, was saved at 4:48 p.m. by a Jayhawk helicopter out of Air Station Cape Cod.

The Coast Guard launched the 87-foot cutter Cobia out of Woods Hole and the 270-foot cutter Escanaba from Boston. The search continued through the night and throughout the day Monday as the weather improved.

The search was called off at 4:40 p.m. on Monday. The missing men have been identified as Gerald Bretal, Xavier Vega and Mark Cormier Jr.

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