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Private effort mulled to continue search for missing men

February 11, 2018

BARNEGAT LIGHT, N.J. (AP) — Family members of two crew members missing since their fishing boat issued a distress signal off New Jersey say they are considering efforts to continue the search for them.

The Coast Guard on Friday night suspended the search for the 46-foot-long (14-meter-long) Queen Ann’s Revenge, which issued a distress signal early Thursday about 40 miles (64 kilometers) off the coast of Barnegat, New Jersey. An air and sea search of 4,441 square miles (11,500 square kilometers) turned up no sign of the vessel or crew, authorities said.

NJ.com reports that although the families of 30-year-old Paul Matos and 34-year-old Dennis Smalling have been told there is little chance that the men are alive, they are considering raising money to send a diver in search of the vessel. At the time of the distress report there were 10-foot (3-meter) seas, 25 mph (40 kph) winds and a sea temperature of 46 degrees Fahrenheit (8 degrees Celsius), the Coast Guard said.

Amy Romano said Matos, her boyfriend, had been working as a fisherman for other people, but decided last summer to strike out on his own.

“I think what sparked him is learning he’s going to have a child,” Romano told NJ Advance Media. “On other fishing boats, he can’t make his own hours, and they’re away for a week to two weeks at a time.”

Alice Vannote, Smalling’s mother, said the hope that the two will be found alive may seem unnatural to some but “the thought of them being forever at sea is just too much to bear.”

Smalling, who always loved fishing and worked on several scallop boats, was hesitant to go along on the trip but didn’t want to let Matos down, she said. He leaves behind a 12-year-old daughter.

“There’s no closure,” Vannote said. “I’ll be looking over my shoulder for the rest of my life and praying that maybe he’ll come home.”


Information from: NJ.com, http://www.nj.com

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