Families of missing N.S. fishermen ‘let down’ by rescue efforts
Published Friday, February 22, 2013 7:52AM EST
Last Updated Friday, February 22, 2013 9:58PM EST
The families of five fishermen who went missing off the coast of Nova Scotia are furious at what they say are poor recovery efforts by the RCMP and military to recover their loved ones.
They’ve taken efforts into their own hands to track down the lost fishing boat, Missy Ally, hoping the five fishermen are still inside.
Late Thursday night, RCMP released surveillance images showing what they believed to be debris from Miss Ally’s hull, suggesting the boat had been shattered.
But on Friday, officials said the debris may actually have been items from the deck, and the hull could still be intact. An earlier aerial search had found the hull 120 kilometres from shore.
Fed up with the recovery efforts and confusion, the fishermen’s families are hoping private boats and divers from Woods Harbour, N.S., will find the lost vessel.
“They feel very, very, very let down, and they are disappointed because they feel they’ve been cheated,” fisherman Sandy Stoddard said.
“They left a boat that was afloat, and there was a very good possibility that our boys were alive on that boat, and now after 100 hours they’re not alive,” Sarah Thorburne, a stepmother of one of the men, said.
“We just want to bring them home,” she added.
The father of one of the missing men criticized the coast guard for leaving the boat before attempting to stabilize it.
"They should have stayed there," George Hopkins, father of 27-year-old Joel, said. "That was a big mistake, right there. You don't leave it, you leave someone by it.”
Hopkins also questioned attempts to find a life-raft that was supposedly on board, because he believes an object on the surface seen in a U.S. Coast Guard photo was the boat’s hull, not a raft.
"There was no raft, there never was," Hopkins said. "They wasted a lot of time looking for a raft that wasn't there, I think."
Although the search is resumed, some family members also suggested that another day has been wasted, as the search planes covered old ground only to find new debris but no boat.
“They spent all day with three planes searching the wrong area,” Thorburne said.
But according to Supt. Sylvie Bourassa-Muise, “We were focusing on the search area and not focusing on types of debris.”
The RCMP has now enlisted the expertise of local fishermen to map out a new search area.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said Friday that there will be a review of the way the Canadian Forces handled the incident.
The Miss Ally’s crew, five men under the age of 35, was on a halibut fishing trip. They became stranded when they stayed out too long in bad weather.
With a report from CTV Atlantic and files from The Canadian Press