Fathers of missing fishermen demand military retrieve capsized boat

The Canadian Press
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WOODS HARBOUR, N.S. — The fathers of two young Nova Scotia fishermen who disappeared when their boat capsized are demanding the Canadian government retrieve the vessel.

Stephen Nickerson and George Hopkins say the 13-metre boat — spotted overturned early Monday off southwest Nova Scotia — could contain the bodies of their sons and answers as to why the boat flipped over Sunday night.

The two men, speaking in separate interviews on Wednesday, say time is running out because the boat is unlikely to stay afloat for much longer.

“If my boy is in that boat, I want to bring him home,” Nickerson said. “I think he’s in that boat. And I think attempts should be made to (salvage the vessel).”

In addition to Steven Cole Nickerson and Joel Hopkins, there were three other men aboard the Miss Ally when it capsized in rough seas some time after 11 p.m. Sunday.

Stephen Nickerson said he’s asked the military for a salvage operation, but he was told the case is now being handled by the RCMP as a missing persons file.

“It seems like they’re not going to do anything about that,” said Nickerson, a fisherman for 35 years. “They said the search is called off and it’s been turned over to the RCMP. That’s it. That’s as far as they go. ... We’re all mad. It should go farther.”

George Hopkins said the families need closure.

“We need to know if there’s bodies in there,” he said.

“I want to get the message that these kids were important. They were important to me, they were important to this community and there’s five young boys in the prime of their life. We need closure. We need to know for sure that we’ve done everything we can.”

Hopkins, sitting in his living room with two close friends and surrounded by photos of smiling children, said he got the news Tuesday afternoon that the search would be called off.

“It was like someone passing you a death certificate,” he said.

RCMP Cpl. Scott MacRae said the Mounties are aware of the strong emotions surrounding the case, adding that planning is underway to determine whether a salvage operation could be carried out.

“We are in the stages of developing what our strategy is going to be to do this, to move the investigation in a safe manner, hopefully sooner than later,” he said.

The RCMP have a “very good idea” where the boat is, but MacRae couldn’t confirm whether the vessel was still afloat.

“We understand the emotions with the tragic loss of family members — the human aspect of wanting to retrieve your loved one,” he said.

A massive search for survivors was called off at 6 p.m. Tuesday when the military decided the crew’s chances for survival were slim, even if they were wearing immersion suits.

— With files from Michael MacDonald in Halifax



Organizations: RCMP

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, WOODS HARBOUR, Halifax

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Recent comments

  • Sherrieo
    February 21, 2013 - 08:28

    I feel search and rescue should have been responsible..but all the limited resources and cut backs and all the changes has really been felt here, RCMP haven't the resources to do this..how hard can a salvage be, or divers to go in for a short period of time to retrieve the bodies..something should be done..this is just one of the many things that have changed..Canadian Coast Guard and navy abandoning people to the sea..and Families left to mourn..SHAME on us.. I am so sad that no onee can right this wrong..and it ain't risking the lives of other people if the rescue mission is done right..and swift as can be..If it was your children out there, wouldn't you want to bring them home!! heart goes out to the families..and prayer that their bodies will be bought home to be layed to rest.

  • J
    February 21, 2013 - 07:48

    So, what you saying is we should put other men and women in harms way to retrieve bodies?

  • Islander
    February 21, 2013 - 06:50

    Would the canadian government stopped the search if it was one of their family members. If was a politican I can guarantee you .... THE SEARCH WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN CALLED OFF. Bring those men back home to their families so they have some kind of closurer.... God Bless the families and the missing men.

  • Cecil
    February 20, 2013 - 20:36

    I have a clear reminder to b hopeful There is a true Canadian story of small plane went down in the arctic not so long ago , all there were presumed dead by RCMP, and other searchers , they gave up to soon , but there is an amazing story the both men were found by a boat on ice flows long after they were given up , RCMP took flax for that aswell others involved in their failed search's, however it ended well because the presumed dead , they didn't give up !! This story no one know's if their aerial's of the boat were lost n couldn't get there mayday out, who knows they may had there survival suits on, and when she caped they would be presumed trying to weather that storm, n would be presumed inside in that kind of weather, having that said there all maybe's , but sometimes that is hope, but to give up, when there is the Miss Ally boat is visible by Government boats stating this and still a float on the water who has the right to call anything off now, resume a rescue their must be air pockets to have the boat still there, their have been miracles before so Government of Nova Scotia / or RCMP get on this right away for these families, it's a sad day when a visible boat is seen and with all the Canadian Navy boats around / and Coast Guard Vessels some supported with crane's on them . I read the news more or less Government of Nova Scotia are standing down pull the plug as it is , as I write this note, In my opinion not go the 9 yards is a very sad day in this Province when every second counts. either recovery or rescue , My deepest feeling go out to all the fisherman's family's, and all Woods Harbour residents during this time ! God Bless u all !