The search for a young fisherman missing since Monday evening continued off the south coast of Newfoundland Wednesday as the community mourned the loss of three men from the same family whose bodies were recovered.
The Canadian Coast Guard confirmed that one vessel searched through Tuesday night in the area near the mouth of Placentia Bay where the fishing boat is believed to have sunk. It was joined Wednesday morning by two more vessels, a Hercules aircraft and a Cormorant helicopter.
Eileen Norman of St. Lawrence, N.L., told The Canadian Press that the body of her brother-in-law Ed Norman, 67, had been found Tuesday. The bodies of his son Scott Norman, in his mid-30s, and his nephew Jody Norman, 42, were also recovered.
Isaac Kettle, a close family friend of the two younger men who is in his early 30s, remains missing.
“They were a great bunch of men and boys,” John Norman, Ed’s brother, said by phone from St. Lawrence on Wednesday.
He remembered his brother as a “relentless worker” and lifelong fisherman who never hesitated to help family and friends and mentored younger relatives in the trade.
“He never stopped, he was always at something,” Norman said “I’ll miss him being around (for) companionship. And anything I wanted done, all I had to do was call him.”
He praised Scott and Jody Norman as young men eager to help out with any fixes around the house. “They’d be right here in five minutes,” he said.
Lt.-Gov. Judy Foote shared a statement Tuesday night offering condolences to the families on behalf of the province.
“I share in the heartbreak with the people of St. Lawrence,” the statement read. “We join in the hope of Isaac Kettle’s family and friends for his safe return.”
Premier Dwight Ball offered condolences to the families at a COVID-19 news conference, describing the news as “heartbreaking for our province.”
The men were aboard a 12-metre fishing vessel that did not return as planned Monday night. The town of approximately 1,200 people was in mourning Wednesday, as residents rallied for the search to continue to provide closure to Kettle’s family.
Dozens of community members from St. Lawrence and the Burin Peninsula took to their boats to join in the search for the lost fishermen, according to Mayor Paul Pike and coast guard officials.
Mark Gould, regional supervisor for search and rescue at the Maritime rescue sub-centre in St. John’s, said Tuesday that it appears the vessel Sarah Anne sank, but the exact circumstances are unclear.
The four men left St. Lawrence before dawn on Monday to fish for crab, and the search began shortly after 8 p.m. when they did not return as scheduled.
Ed Norman was taught to fish at a young age by his father, his family members said. Jody and Scott Norman, both fathers with young children, also learned to fish through the family, Eileen Norman said, though Scott had recently worked on offshore supply vessels and was home on time off.
She said Kettle, a father to young children and “best friend” to Scott and Jody, also worked away from the community in mining and was also home on time off.
Ed Norman was an experienced carpenter who had purchased the fishing vessel last year and fixed it up with the help of his nephew and sons, his brother said. The Sarah Anne was named for the girlfriend of a family member who was killed in a traffic accident.
Eileen Norman recalled how the young woman’s family attended the boat’s maiden voyage when it was christened with champagne.
Federal MP Churence Rogers wrote on Facebook that he had been assured the search for Kettle would continue until dark after making calls to “colleagues in Ottawa” to extend it past noon on Wednesday.
“Please God, we will find Isaac and bring him home,” Rogers wrote. “My thoughts and prayers are with you all.”
John Norman said he’ll miss the sight of the Sarah Anne docked in the town.
“I’ll miss looking down every day, and not seeing the boat, and him not giving me a call.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 27, 2020.