Deep 'sadness' grips N.S. community after search for missing fishermen called off
Published Wednesday, February 20, 2013 7:02AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 20, 2013 1:40PM EST
Residents of a tight-knit southwestern Nova Scotia community where five young fishermen were lost at sea are grieving today as it comes to grip with the news that the search has ended because there is little hope for themen’s survival.
“I loved them all,” said George Hopkins, whose son Joel Hopkins was on board the 13-metre fishing boat that capsized late Sunday.
Katlin Nickerson, Billy Jack Hatfield, Steven (Cole) Nickerson and Tyson Townsend are also believed to have died after their boat, the Miss Ally, got caught up in rough waves during an extended weekend fishing trip to catch halibut.
"It's deep sadness. We're going to rally together," said Phil Williams, a Baptist pastor in Woods Harbour, where the men were from. "This wonderful community is going to be extending their support to their neighbours, especially to these five precious families."
Family members of the missing fisherman now want the capsized boat to be searched for bodies.
The military said the fishing boat capsized about 120 kilometres southeast of Liverpool as it was tossed about by 10-metrewaves and winds approaching hurricane force. The water’s temperature at the time was between 2 C and 4 C.
Two Coast Guard vessels and five aircrafts searched more than 18,000 square kilometres of water after 11 p.m. on Sunday, when a distress signal was received from the boat.
On Tuesday, the search for the young men became a missing person case and is now being handled by the RCMP.
Williams said he has visited with all the families and they have different opinions on the decision to scale back the search.
"There are two main opinions: those who feel the search should continue on and on and on, and those who have just come to the realization that enough has been done," he said.
Karen Nickerson, the stepmother of 28-year-old Cole, said she's grateful for the support the family is receiving from neighbours but had hoped the search would on for another 12 hours.
"We really thought they deserved it ... that they'd search longer," she told the Canadian Press in a phone interview. "It's a close community and Cole was very much involved in it."
The Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Halifax said it made its decision to call off the search because of "frigid water and poor weather conditions."
With files from The Canadian Press