Search efforts paused for missing Navy sailor after seen on video leaving bar before disappearance

Video shows US Navy sailor outside Waukegan bar before going missing

ByMichelle Gallardo, Eric Horng, and Stephanie Wade WLS logo
Friday, March 24, 2023
Search efforts for missing sailor paused, video shows him leaving bar
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The Waukegan Police Department have paused searching for missing U.S. Navy sailor Seamus Gray, last seen leaving a bar near Sheridan Road and Washington Street.

WAUKEGAN, Ill. (WLS) -- Waukegan police have paused search efforts Thursday for a Navy sailor who hasn't been seen or heard from since Saturday.

For the family of Seamus Gray, it's been an agonizing wait for answers.

For two straight days, authorities in Waukegan have searched the waters of Lake Michigan, beaches and lakefront for the 21-year-old Florida native and Navy sailor assigned to Naval Station Great Lakes in nearby North Chicago.

On the second day of searching, Waukegan Police wrapped up early, convinced they have exhausted this particular section of the lakefront. They will be back Friday, this time with additional resources from the U.S. Navy, they said.

"We canvassed the entire lakefront yesterday. We are going to recover those same search areas today to make sure we're not missing anything," said Deputy Chief Brian Mullen, with the Waukegan Police Department.

Gray was last seen leaving the Ibiza Bar on Genessee Street Saturday morning. He was wearing a red shirt or jacket - and red pants.

Seamus Gray, 21, was last seen leaving the Ibiza Bar on Genessee Street Saturday morning. He was wearing a red shirt or jacket - and red pants.

Concerning video shared with ABC7 shows what transpired outside the bar moments before he went missing.

The bar is a place popular with sailors from the nearby Naval Station Great Lakes.

An attorney for Ibiza Night Club says Gray was there twice Friday night, on St. Patrick's Day.

Gray, seen in all red, first left Ibiza at 10:30 p.m. Then, according to the attorney, returned to the bar at 1:30 a.m. near closing time.

The attorney said the bar kicked Gray and a group of others out shortly after, because they were too intoxicated. At one point in the video, Gray is seen lying on the ground.

Police give update on search for missing sailor

Another surveillance video, shared by Waukegan police, captures Gray walking alone at the intersection of Sheridan Road and Washington around 1:40 a.m. Police said there is more video of him walking toward the lake.

"Overnight we received some more video from around here at the lakefront, from businesses at the marinas that were showing Seamus right on the water's edge. And so we focused our efforts on searching the water again today," Mullen said.

That search, conducted on the ground and in the water wrapped up early this afternoon.

After making numerous passes on land and air it was determined our resources have kind of been exhausted a little bit today," Mullen said.

Among those volunteering to help with the search was Ibiza's manager. The bar shared surveillance video that shows Gray moments after being escorted outside to his friends. Gray, who is seen wearing red, had been there briefly earlier in the evening, around 10:30pm, they said. When he returned near closing time, he had been overserved, they bar added.

He's last seen walking away, alone, from through a back alley behind the bar.

"We sat with his mom yesterday for over three hours at our business with the detectives. Went over all the footage," said Ibiza Bar manager, Adrian Hernandez.

Although Hernandez said he doesn't know for sure, he believes those pictured along with him were also sailors from Great Lakes.

From the sound on the video, they were talking about going back to the base," Hernandez said.

Gray did not report back to the Naval Station, Great Lakes at his assigned time, leading to an extensive search for him, over the past several days.

Gray's mother is shaken up and worried sick about her son.

"There's three things my son lives for. He lives for his family; he lives for God and he lives for his country. He came here to fight for his county and now he's missing," said Gray's mother, Kerry Gray. "That's my boy. That's my guy. His little brother is 14 and is my son's role model. He is my life. So please help find Seamus."

'He is my life': Mother asks for help to find Navy sailor

Waukegan police have been searching the area where he was last seen near the Metra train station and along the lakefront.

Searchers have been using drones and sonar and are now preparing to expand the search area as Gray's family struggles to maintain hope.

"I'm here. I'm going through dumpsters, looking for my son," his mother said. "He's my life, so please help find Seamus,"

Naval Station Great Lakes released a statement saying: "The Navy is aware that the Waukegan Police Department is conducting an investigation in an attempt to locate Fireman Recruit Seamus Gray, an active-duty service member assigned to Surface Warfare Engineering School Command Great Lakes. He was reported missing on March 21, 2023. The Great Lakes Naval Criminal Investigative Service office is assisting with the investigation.. Please direct all additional questions to the Waukegan Police Department. The Navy will continue to work with all law enforcement agencies involved in the case. Our thoughts are with Fireman Recruit Gray's family during this difficult time."

Waukegan Police now working with Naval investigators NCIS.

Police ask anyone with any information to call police immediately.

"I would like for anyone who has any information about my son Seamus to please come forward and please help me," Kerry said.

As for why the missing person's report was only filed on Tuesday when Seamus has been missing since early Saturday, Waukegan police said it was simply because it was not until then that authorities at the Naval Base received information that this is where he was last seen.