Coast Guard suspends search for a missing fisherman with officials stating that his survival is unlikely based on water conditions. Boaters say that it’s very dangerous work off, especially when a person is alone, which is normal right now since shrimp prices are so low.
Coast Guard spent Saturday searching for 49-year-old Ba Van Nguyen, who went missing off the coast in the Houston Ship Channel near Eagle Point on Friday. Nguyen reportedly left San Leon around 5 a.m. was expected to arrive back in port around 2 p.m. but never came back.
Search crews didn’t find anything on Saturday along the coast, but Texas Equusearch is continuing the search on Sunday near Eagle Point. “Hopefully he’s still holding onto some structure or something, it’s possible. From the location where he’s reported to be missing it’s pretty far swim in any direction,” said shrimper Walter Jakubas.
Around 6:52pm, another vessel contacted the Coast Guard and reported Nguyen’s 54-foot shrimp boat, Regina Pacis, was seen spinning in circles with gear set in the channel.
“He’s a hard worker. He’s always given us everything we needed,” said Judy Nguyen, Ba Van Nguyen’s daughter.
Judy Nguyen said their family is devastated that officials suspended the search for Ba Van Nguyen. “We found his boat and his car, but he’s nowhere to be found,” she said.
As the Coast Guard suspends the search, they said they had six teams out searching for the mission fisherman. By Saturday afternoon, they had searched 272 square miles. The Coast Guard believes he may have fallen overboard. Loved ones say Ba Van Nguyen left San Leon around 5am on Friday and was expected return at 2pm.
The Coast Guard began their search for the missing man on Sunday with heavy fog, cold waters and members of Texas Equusearch heading out to a massive area of water 3 to 4 miles in size. “This is a shoot an arrow in the sky thing and where ever it comes down, i guess that’s a pretty good starting point,” said Tim Miller, Texas Equusearch.
Using an ultra high-tech sonar system Equusearch volunteers are scouring the waters near Eagle Point just off the coast. They can search 300 feet with each pass.
While the Coast Guard was searching, Randy Nguyen, Ba’s son and a soldier in the United States Army, arrived at the site hoping for a miracle. “My goal is to find him alive. I don’t think he’s gone. I hope for the best, that’s what i believe now,” Randy said.
Randy, who just graduated from airborne school has come all the way from Alaska to find his father. “I wouldn’t have joined the service, if not for my father,” randy said. “He is simply the best man, we have to find him.”
“Our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of Mr. Ba Van Nguyen,” Lt. Melissa K. McCafferty, Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston command duty officer said in a news release. “Our hearts are with them in this troubling time. On behalf of the Coast Guard, we would like to extend a special thank you to the other agencies and volunteers for their support in the search effort.”
Captain Van Pham has been friends with Nguyen for 20 years and saw him leaving the coast Friday. “I came back here, and my friend called him. He did not answer the phone,” said Pham. Nguyen went out alone on the shrimp boat. His daughter said he’s been fishing for 25 years.
“He used to have a crew, like a deck-man. But he doesn’t work as often as he used to. He works a few times a week, so he’ll go alone,” said Judy Nguyen.
Coast Guard Chief Nick Ameen said no floating debris or other evidence that a boat was capsized was found during the search. The initial report was made when a man walking on the beach called 911. Police who responded to the call also saw a vessel and called the Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard has focused their search to the northwest as a result of the current.
The Coast Guard searched 272 square miles before opting to suspend the search. It involved a 47-foot Motor Lifeboat, an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew, an HC-130 Hercules airplane crew, and the 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Shearwater.