Determined Volunteers Still Search for Capsized Ship Missing – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
The volunteers gather around a map and use tanned fingers to trace the bayous, lakes, and islands they will be searching on. They talk about where they have been and where they are going today. They make sure everyone has food and water and knows which radio station to use. They gather for prayer and then set off for another day to look for those who are missing in the capsized Seacor Power.
“Lord, we have some families that are hurt,” says one of the men as nearly 30 people bow their heads in prayer. “Please give us the opportunity to find something today.”
On April 19, after a search of 9,000 square kilometers, the Coast Guard officially ended the search for survivors of the lift boat that overturned in hurricane winds on April 13 about eight miles off the coast of Louisiana. In a statement on April 27, Houston, Texas, shipowner Seacor Marine said it was focused on salvage work and the recovery of the ship.
But from a dock in southern Louisiana, volunteers don’t give up. They set out in planes, boats, and waist-high waders in hopes of finding someone still alive on the liftboat, a platform ship with retractable legs that powers offshore oil and gas facilities.
Nineteen people were aboard the Seacor Power when she failed the storm. Six men were saved. Six bodies were recovered from the sea or by divers in the ship. seven are still missing.
Scott Daspit still hopes his son Dylan is still alive. When speaking to the people who went looking, he said that any survivors would likely be covered in mud to keep mosquitos off. He told them to focus on the few trees that would provide the only shade in the hot, flat landscape.
At a quieter moment, Daspit said he had stolen hope from a volunteer who was telling a story about how he had survived at sea for days.
“It gave me a new spirit,” said Daspit. “But I have to assume that … if we find someone alive, they’ll be very hurt because nobody gets up and waves to us.”
Later, when he started to choke, he said, “If we can find a soul, it will be worth it.”
Like other family members, Daspit was frustrated with the rescue effort from the start. In the immediate days after the ship capsized, a ship owner, who has been in the oil industry for decades, took Daspit near Seacor Power so he could see for himself what was going on.
The whole country benefits from oil and gas extracted in the Gulf and the associated tax revenues, Daspit said, but few appreciate how risky the job can be.
“From the roustabout to the company man to the engineer in these jobs, everyone puts their life at risk,” he said.
It could take up to two years for a National Transportation Safety Board investigation to determine what happened.
The United Cajun Navy, a nonprofit that helps with disasters, sponsored the search. Todd Terrell, who heads the organization, said they found life jackets, lifebuoys and items from inside the boat, such as doors or closets and clothing. He knows that at some point they will have exhausted all their efforts, but he said they are not there yet.
Many of the volunteers came from the local area, others from afar. Mike Asher, a longtime fisherman, set sail from Lake Charles, west Louisiana, after a friend who knew someone on the capsized boat asked if he could help. When Asher drove a small watercraft, he remembered how people came to help his hometown after Hurricane Laura pierced the city last August.
“People came from all over the place and helped us. I definitely felt like I should give something back to people,” he said. “It’s looking for a needle in a haystack. But if you don’t look, you won’t find.”
Others have looked over them from seaplanes. A team of dogs trained to search for bodies also arrived. Groups of ATVs have combed beaches all the way to the Texas border.
On Thursday, an airboat that can travel over swamps or land to reach hard-to-reach areas combed its way through the grasses while other flat-bottomed boats went looking for clues. Well-wishers have brought food and drink that have gathered under a raised building on the dock. Volunteer Ronnie Adams, who appeared on the History Channel’s Swamp People, posted online updates that were viewed by thousands of people.
Mark Theriot, a 63-year-old shrimper, said he comes out every day just because Scott Daspit and the other families need help.
“I really don’t have much confidence that we will find anyone, but the man wants to go and I will go,” said Theriot. “I come for the family to support them. You have received help. You are not alone.”