Fisherman recounts harrowing journey
HOUSTON — John Reynolds and the four others aboard the Nite Owl weren't worried when the thunderstorms made it impossible for the commercial fishing boat to return back to shore. They'd seen this kind of weather before.
They did what they normally would, tying the boat to an oil rig off the Texas Gulf Coast and going to sleep. But early Friday morning, “a rogue wave, a freak wave or something hit the side of the boat,” Reynolds said.
“It just collapsed the cabin ... where the captain sleeps,” he said on Sunday as the Coast Guard announced it was calling off the search for the other four people aboard the vessel. “When it hit, it tore the whole top of the boat off.”
The captain was sent overboard, and within two minutes, the 50-foot vessel sunk. One crew member tried to reach the captain, while Reynolds and the two others saw a life raft. Reynolds was the only one who reached it.
He then spent about two hours floating in the Gulf of Mexico before the Coast Guard rescued him.
The Coast Guard scoured a 5,400-square-mile area with planes, helicopters and boats looking for Reynolds' four crewmates before calling off its search.
“I'm just sorry they didn't find anybody. I wish all the guys would have been in the life raft with me,” Reynolds said.
The Coast Guard has identified three of the missing fishermen as Don Windom, Duoc Dan Nguyen and Jamie Esquivel. Larry Moore, the boat's owner, identified the fourth missing man as Charles Patrick, the vessel's captain.
What became a harrowing journey for Reynolds and the four other men began Thursday when the Nite Owl left Port Bolivar, near Galveston, for what was to be an eight- to 12-day fishing trip, said Moore, who runs M.L.T. Seafood Inc. in Golden Meadow, La. The Nite Owl is the company's only fishing boat.
Reynolds, 56, from Gaston, Ala., said that after the boat was hit by the “freak wave,” he and three other crew members who had been sleeping below deck, climbed upstairs, pushing debris out of the way. Realizing Patrick was missing, they began calling out for him. Patrick answered them back once, although they couldn't see him.
“The first and only thing I heard him say was he told us to get our life jackets on,” Reynolds said.
The life jackets had been washed away, and the men were soon in the water as the boat quickly sank about 115 miles southeast of Galveston.
Reynolds said one of his crewmates appeared to be in shock and didn't seem to want to let go of some debris he was clinging to. The other crewmate, who was not a good swimmer, seemed to follow Reynolds.
Reynolds said as he was trying to get his crewmates into the raft, he was also bailing water out of it. The 10-to-12 foot waves soon swept the raft away from his crewmates.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- New York farmers lament lost opportunity for natural gas riches with fracking ban
- Police: NYC cop killer invited people to watch shooting
- Coal mines near record low in worker deaths
- Georgia prosecutor Yates tapped for No. 2 post in Justice Department
- Nativity scene placed by Satanic display at Michigan Capitol
- IBM’s Watson supercomputing system to be applied to PTSD
- Government survey: More teens trying out e-cigarettes than real thing
- Gray wolf decision reversed
- Obama fires back on foreign policy on Cuba, Russia
- Veteran NBC newsman Brokaw says his cancer is in remission
- Florida officer slain; 1 charged