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Continued: Louisiana couple search in vain for daughter lost in Pacific Ocean after authorities give up

  • Article by: NICK PERRY , Associated Press
  • Last update: February 18, 2014 - 8:03 AM

As well as Danielle and the Dyches, also aboard was Kyle Jackson, 27, who grew up on a Nebraska cattle ranch; Matthew Wootton, 35, a British musician and Green Party member; and Evi Nemeth, 73, a retired University of Colorado computer science professor who two years earlier had reroofed her own house. All loved the outdoors and adventure.

A few days out, Nemeth used the satellite phone to call a New Zealand meteorologist: The weather had turned nasty, she told him, and they were seeking advice to avoid the worst of the storm. The last known communication from the Nina was a text sent June 4: "Thanks storm sails shredded last night, now bare poles" followed by a course heading.

The text never reached its intended recipient and was only later recovered by satellite phone company Iridium. The Nina had an emergency beacon aboard, but it was never activated.

New Zealand searchers say they were first told the boat was missing on June 14. They began trying to communicate with the crew but were unsuccessful. On June 25, the day authorities calculated the Nina should have reached Australia, they began a two-week aerial search.

Nigel Clifford, the general manager of safety and response services at Maritime New Zealand, says they didn't get a plane up right away in line with standard international practice — without a distress call, they wait until a boat is overdue before beginning an aerial search because there could be any number of reasons why a boat loses its communications.

"Given there was no debris, that would further suggest the boat sank. But it is a really big ocean. A really big ocean," Clifford says,

Clifford says a relative of another missing Nina crew member was present when searchers had to tell him they were abandoning the aerial search.

"He said that in his heart he couldn't accept what had happened," Clifford says, "but in his head, he could."

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