BALTIMORE (AP) — A Coast Guard search was called off Thursday for a missing North Carolina man and his nephew, who apparently have become the latest in a string of family members to be lost on the water.
The Coast Guard said it had searched over 560 square miles of the Atlantic before suspending the search about 1 p.m. for Walter and Steven Tate, both of New Bern, N.C. A third crew member, Patrick Small, also of New Bern, was rescued Wednesday afternoon.
The 67-foot Seafarer became disabled Wednesday morning and was being towed by another ship about 15 miles east of Assateague Island when the two vessels became separated in heavy seas. The Coast Guard searched for the missing pair until nightfall Wednesday and resumed a helicopter search about 7 a.m. Thursday.
Julia Respass, 77, said her 80-year-old brother, Walter Tate, had cheated death once before in the wintry Atlantic, surviving for more than two days in a life raft with other crew members after their boat sank in 1992. But Respass said she wasn’t confident he would be rescued again after hearing Small reported that her brother and nephew were in the ship’s pilot house when the vessel was struck by a large wave.
“We’re losing hope; they didn’t have their survival suits on,” Respass said. “And then, even if they got out of the pilot house, they could have never survived too long in the water.”
Small was not wearing any protective gear when he was pulled from the open ocean, video released by the Coast Guard showed.
Respass said her family has had to deal with a number of fishing deaths over the years.
Two other nephews were lost in 1987 while fishing off the coast of Maryland, another brother died while crabbing in North Carolina, and her grandfather and uncle died in the 1920s in a boating accident.
“Their livelihood has been on the water,” Respass said. “It’s a dangerous job, but it was a job.”
After Walter Tate was pulled from the Atlantic in January 1992, he told The Associated Press, “You don’t appreciate life so much until you’ve about lost it.”
He was the skipper at the time of the 87-foot Lois Joyce, which sank about 70 miles southeast of Montauk, N.Y., after it was damaged by a 10-foot swell. Tate and four others spent more than two days in a cramped life raft before they were spotted about 44 miles from where their fishing boat sank.
The Coast Guard said the Seafarer was owned by Hobo Seafoods of Scranton, N.C.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)