A group of three friends are missing after going on a deep-sea fishing trip off the coast of Georgia, sparking fears and a frantic search as their time away continues to build.
The U.S. Coast Guard continued searching for the trio Wednesday with air and surface crews, as families of the fishermen still haven't given up hope that the search of more than 32,000 square nautical miles off the Carolinas, Florida and Georgia coasts will lead to their loved ones.
Dalton Conway, Caleb Wilkinson and Tyler Barlow set off on a rented 31-foot fishing vessel named Carol Ann on Oct. 14. They planned to travel 80 miles from docks in Brunswick, Georgia, to a popular fishing spot offshore before heading back on Oct. 18, a GoFundMe set up by family said.
— USCGSoutheast (@USCGSoutheast) October 24, 2023
A good samaritan reportedly saw the vessel anchored with people on board that day, the Coast Guard reported, but now a week after the expected return date, fears that the men are lost at sea have grown, as there has been no communication nor any other signs of the vessel.
But it appears the Coast Guard and the families are keeping an optimistic outlook; though the military branch said it was a "complicated search," it said there are reasons to remain hopeful, like the lack of conversations about turning it into a recovery mission.
A Coast Guard spokesperson told Axios the vessel's emergency beacon has not been activated, which automatically occurs when the vessel is submerged in water.
And one family member told First Coast News he's hopeful his "cautious" brother Caleb Wilkinson is just waiting for rescue.
"We're all hoping they're just drifting off and trying to figure out what to do," Cameron Wilkinson told the publication. "We have no idea what's going on. Honestly, we're just hoping that they come home."
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