Family of missing fishermen ‘frustrated’ but not giving up hope
By Shikema Dey
Captain Harold Anthony Damon was a quiet father of three who loved a good game of domino.
Ronald Burton was a family man and a father of 10 who loved oldies music; Winston Sam was reserved but came alive when interacting with his niece and nephew.
It has been more than a week since the three men were on a Noble House Seafoods vessel that reportedly capsized offshore Guyana in the vicinity of the Mahaica River. Only one crew member, Vincent Dazzell, survived.
Dazzell was reportedly rescued by another vessel after floating for some three hours but the others were not so lucky.
Authorities have been searching, hoping to locate the vessel and the men, but their efforts have been futile.
Relatives of the missing men gathered at Harold Damon’s Agricola, East Bank Demerara house, sitting under a cherry tree, reminiscing when the News Room arrived on Monday.
Emotions ran high, and a tearful Pamela Sam – the older sister of Winston – lamented that the families have been starved of information, only learning of developments through the media.
“It has been how many days, so this is very frustrating…what can we think…we not getting any reports from the authorities.
“I saw something in the newspaper about them finding something in the river but nobody told us about it, no call, nothing. Is this how things operate?
“My brother worked really really hard, up until the time he disappeared. He was always a hard worker and we want answers man, we need it,” a distraught Pamela told the News Room.
She was the first to note that her family has not lost hope of finding her brother alive. She believes he is out there safe, waiting to return home to his wife and family. His wife was present but was too distraught to speak to the media.
Claudette Welch, the wife of Ronald Burch, had little to say but her words held weight. Surrounded by a few of her children, the woman told the News Room that “I have hope, I have faith, I have a lot of faith that he is alive.”
Fay Damon, like Claudette, held on to hope that her son, Harold Damon, is still alive.
The woman relayed to the News Room that she only returned to Guyana on Sunday and since then, no proper account of what happened to her son and the vessel was given.
Added to that, the woman expressed disappointment that no representatives of Noble House Seafoods visited the family members since the incident went public.
“The owner, never one day come to see his family, that he was working to take care of, to come and see if they good or okay…he got four kids, all school-aged. How are we explaining this to them?”
The relatives all begged to be kept abreast with developments regarding the ongoing search efforts.
And for Fay, all she wants is her son to return home.
Through tears, she told the News Room, “I want my son home. I want him home. I need him back home.”
On day one of the search, the last known position of the vessel that showed up on the Maritime Department (MARAD) vessel monitoring screen was searched; on day two, the area where Dazzell was rescued was searched and on day three, the team was hopeful after they found the men’s fishing net.
Based on accounts from Dazzell, the vessel sank about 26 miles from the Mahaica River.
A multi-agency Board of Inquiry has been set up to investigate the incident. Expected distress signals, MARAD’s Director-General Stephen Thomas said previously, were not issued and it is unclear why Noble House Seafoods did not immediately report that the men were in distress when they radioed for assistance.