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Three men found; three still missing at sea

ROYSTON JONES JR.
Guardian Staff Reporter
royston@nasguard.com

Published: May 07, 2013

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Authorities were yesterday still searching for three men who went missing at sea over the weekend in two separate voyages. Two of the men who are yet to be found went missing in waters off Hatchet Bay, Eleuthera. A third man, who went kayaking off western New Providence, was also still missing yesterday.

However, three men who left Green Cay, Exuma on Sunday for a fishing trip, and were also reported missing that afternoon, have since been found, Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) Lieutenant Origin Deleveaux confirmed.

He said those men were found in good health yesterday afternoon and their vessel was towed to the Defence Force’s Coral Harbour Base.

Meanwhile, local authorities on Eleuthera were looking for two men who reportedly went missing at sea along with three other men during a fishing trip on Sunday morning.

According to police, the group from Hatchet Bay left Unit 2 Beach aboard a 13-foot tin boat around 9:00 a.m.

The men were thrown into the ocean when their boat capsized after encountering bad weather on the Atlantic Ocean side of the island.

Three men managed to swim back to shore.

Candice Taylor, a cousin of Ryan McHardy, one of the missing men who is reportedly in his 20s, told The Nassau Guardian she feared that by the time the defence force can make it to the area to search for her cousin, it may be too late.

Taylor resides on Hatchet Bay. She said family and friends have been searching since 6:30 a.m. yesterday along the shoreline, but the RBDF had not assisted their search.

“We are out there literally, and we have been abandoned,” Taylor said around 3 p.m. yesterday.

“My cousin’s older brother was in the water diving up and down the shoreline, to see anything or any remains.

“We have seen absolutely no one. The police were out there but they can’t do anything. They were just sitting, watching and waiting.

“We have had no assistance from the Defence Force. Today is day two.”

Taylor said the three men who swam to shore and McHardy are from Hatchet Bay, while the other missing man is from New Providence.

Deleveaux admitted that manpower was stretched and the RBDF was unable to send a team to Hatchet Bay.

“We were kind of [busy] with these two cases here. Now that we have found those three missing men in the Green Cay area - the intention, I believe, is to come that way and assist,” he said.

“But, you know, we had four missing men on this side.”

The fourth man he was referring to is a missing 70-year-old man who went kayaking near Clifton Point, New Providence on Sunday .

“We deployed a vessel that evening,” he said. “Our search efforts yielded negative results. However, at first light we would have deployed another vessel to continue our search efforts.

“We are also being assisted by BASRA (Bahamas Air Sea Rescue Association) and the local police in this search effort.”

Pressed on why no Defence Force or United States Coast Guard vessels visited Hatchet Bay as of yesterday afternoon, Deleveaux said, “I think OPBAT (Operation Bahamas, Turks and Caicos), the police and the local fishermen were assisting.”

“Those men went missing not too far away from the shore,” he said. “I think the efforts were a bit focused by those three particular entities.

“All of this occurred within three or four hours apart from each other yesterday (Sunday). We couldn’t leave a bigger area to come to search a smaller area, especially with more men missing.”

Defence Force officials have admonished the boating public to adhere to safe boating practices, including preparing a proper float plan and sticking to it.


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