We were returning from the mountains of DR to the marina where our boat was moored to find the family and friends of 4 missing people that had not returned from fishing earlier in the day – husband and wife, brother-in-law, and an American. Neal went out with a boat to search for them and returned hours later with no luck. On returning Neal began putting a plan in place to help the family – we had the only software for plotting grids, to coordinate all air and sea rescue, DR has no real coast guard or search and rescue operation – so we went into high gear, coordinating all the boats and helicopters we could and giving them the coordinates to search grids. We also spent 2 days at sea on powerful sport fishing boats with tuna towers – searching, with us was the father of Laura, his son-in law, and husband of Cristina – who was supported by 100+ family and friends at the marina. This was too much to bear – for one family…..
Darlene and I searched by several helicopters donated by friends of the family, as Neal could continue plotting the course from inside the chopper and direct the pilot on where to go flying in a grid. On day 3 the bodies of Laura and Cristina’s husband were found in the sea and brought ashore. They were two miles apart. Tuesday was Laura’s funeral – she was 36 yrs old with 3 small children the youngest is one yrs old – their father Plinnio has not been found yet, nor has the American, Robert Wagner. Apparently, they had called a mayday, that they lost an engine – we think literally, and the transom fell off the 22ft boat and it sank immediately. No one that heard it on shore responded to the mayday – why? – we may never know.
This tragic story is really too much for one family to bear – however, we always must look at the bigger picture and know that something good, maybe many good things, will come from this heartbreaking and devastating tragedy. We have met some of the most incredible people we have ever met – and feel a deep connection to this community and it’s spirit of togetherness – we have never seen a community pull itself together with such loving kindness that we witnessed this past 8 days. we will forever be changed and embraced by it.
Gone are Plinnio and Laura – parents of 3 children
Javier – father of two children
Robert – friend to so many who loved him