Search for missing crabber called off

Published 12:29 am Wednesday, September 24, 2008

By Staff
Deserted craft found hours after he left, life jackets floating nearby
Staff Writer
The Coast Guard and a variety of local rescue services called off their search Tuesday night for a crabber presumed lost in the Pamlico River as the weather worsened.
The man was Donald Edgar Rankin of Bath, according to a statement from the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office.
He had borrowed a boat from a coworker and left the northern shore of the river at about 7:30 a.m. to check crab pots near the opposite shore, according to a statement from the Coast Guard.
The 55-year-old didn’t know how to swim, according to the Coast Guard.
About noon, another boater found the vessel capsized near the mouth of Durham Creek, according to the sheriff’s office.
Rankin was familiar with the boat he was using, said Jason Frivance, an operations specialist first class at the N.C. Command Center in Atlantic Beach.
Two helicopters, Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station’s Pedro helicopter and a HH60 Jayhawk from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City had already searched a total of 31.67 square nautical miles, Frivance said.
The North Carolina Canine Emergency Response Team had begun using side-scanning sonar to sweep the river Tuesday evening, Frivance said.
But chief John Taylor of the Bath Fire Department said the sonar is ineffective in high waves, and conditions aren’t expected to improve tomorrow.
Taylor said chances of finding the victim on the surface in a few days will be better.
Other groups responding included the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, the Sidney Dive Team, the North Carolina Marine Patrol, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and SeaTow Pamlico Sound.