Wife Of Md. Man Lost Aboard El Faro Shares Emotional Story

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It’s been almost one year since the El Faro cargo ship got trapped in Hurricane Joaquin and sank. The NTSB now has audio recordings of the turmoil crew members faced, and they are briefing family members of those last moments.

“We owe it to those who perished, the families and loved ones to learn all we can from this tragedy to prevent accidents like this from taking more lives,” said Brian Curtis, NTSB.

Rochelle Hamm’s husband, Frank, was one of 33 crew members now presumed dead.

“We don’t have a body, we don’t have a place where we can lay flowers, we don’t have a place that we can go and visit,” said Hamm. “And I don’t want us to live the rest of our lives with the unknown.”

Frank Hamm graduated from Woodlawn High School in 1984. Even though he moved away to Florida, he still had a lot of family and friends in Maryland.

On Friday, at an event that honored her husband, Rochelle Hamm shared an emotional story — her husband’s hat washed up on a Florida beach.

“The ship sank 39 miles away from the Crooked Islands,” she said. “So this is how far Frank’s hat traveled… Frank’s hat traveled to me thousands of miles, like this, in one piece.”

Recently recovered audio from El Faro’s data recorder revealed that on October 1, 2015, the ship was up against powerful Hurricane Joaquin. The 33 crew members knew they were in trouble.

At 6:13 a.m., the ship lost propulsion near the Bahamas. The captain was later recorded calling ashore about the dire situation.

At 7:30 a.m., there was an alarm to abandon ship. Then, about ten minutes later, the recording stopped.

It’s still not known why the captain sailed into the storm. Rochelle Hamm is now pushing for new rules that would prohibit a ship from leaving port if a storm is in the forecast.

Learn more about her initiative, the Hamm Alert, on her Change.org page or on the Hamm Alert website.

The data recorder had 26 hours of information. It’s not clear when a full transcript will be developed.

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