— Star photo by Paul Hutchings
CORNER BROOK From Meadows to Trout River people are holding on to hope that a missing boater will be found safe.
Pieces of Richard Crocker’s 24-foot cabin cruiser was found washed up on the shore near Sally’s Cove on Friday morning, but there was no sign of him.
The 45-year-old Meadows man left the marina in Summerside at about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. He was the lone occupant on the boat, “My Fairwind.”
Crocker was headed for Trout River, about a three-hour sail away. However, he never made it there and at 8:30 a.m. Thursday was reported overdue to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Corner Brook.
Throughout Thursday the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Halifax conducted a search of the area he was travelling in by sea and air, but high winds and waves hindered efforts and the search was temporarily suspended.
Crocker’s mother-in-law, Angela Hann, told The Western Star that the family had been informed the search resumed at 6 a.m. Friday and was being broadened to the Labrador coast.
That was before his boat was found.
Lieut. Jennifer Fiddler, a Canadian Forces public affairs officer, said the incident report from the rescue centre said the boat was found just before 11 a.m.
She said at the time there was no sign of Crocker and the search for him was continuing.
Late Friday afternoon, she said that search involved a Hercules aircraft doing a shore crawl and a Cormorant helicopter was also on site. Two members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police out of Rocky Harbour were also on scene co-ordinating a search effort by the Bonne Bay Ground Search and Rescue Team.
Const. Steven McCarthy of the Rocky Harbour detachment said the team began its search at around noon and continued until about 4 p.m.
“Mr. Crocker has not been located, but we covered an expansive portion of the beach to the north and south of Sally’s Cove,” said McCarthy.
He added that whether or not the team will go out again will be assessed as the investigation continues.
As for Crocker’s family, which includes wife Zana and daughter Hannah, Hann said they were holding on to hope and faith. Crocker had only had the boat for about a week and Hann said while he was inexperienced the boat was a good, sturdy cabin cruiser.
“It was seaworthy.”
But she said the weather over the last few days was the worst she’s ever seen.
“It had to come dark on him and hopefully he just found a nook somewhere and held up and he would have to be holed up all day yesterday because that wind was outrageous all day yesterday, down there even worse than here,” said Hann.
“And if he didn’t anticipate timing or whatever, whatever reason, we can only speculate as to what he might of done or what might have happened.”
Crocker is originally from Trout River and Hann said the search effort by people there on Thursday was comforting.
People from the area went out on quads to Chimney Cove to see if Crocker had come ashore there.
“These people are just outstanding when it comes to stuff like that.”
Crocker’s cousin Michelle Harris lives in Trout River.
She said Crocker has a lot family, including his father Albert Crocker, and friends in Trout River.
“We’re just praying for some good news and praying for the best for Richard, and Zana and Hannah and the family.”
Harris said some of Crocker’s cousins were involved in the search around Chimney Cove, checking cabins.
But getting out on the water was not possible.
“The weather has been just dreadful and it’s really prohibited anybody from getting out,” she said.
“They most certainly would be on the water if they could.”
As of press time Friday night, Crocker had still not been located.
Canadian Forces spokesperson Jeri Grychowski said the search was turned over to the RCMP as a missing person.