Fax from sea tells rescue tale

Published 5:24 pm Friday, January 17, 2014


Washington Daily News


Belhaven resident Henry Daniels received a fax from his son Bryan late Wednesday night, the first one in months sent from the Joyce D, a fishing vessel traveling 45 miles  off the Virginia coast.

“He faxed us that a Navy jet had crashed. There were two jets in the vicinity at the time. The one jet that didn’t crash buzzed him on channel 16 until he talked with the boy. The pilot told him or showed him where the downed plane was at,” said Henry Daniels.

The pilot of the F/18 Super Hornet ejected and was adrift for 15 minutes. The impact of the crash left him with injuries so severe he couldn’t reach the rescue line thrown to him by crewmembers aboard the Joyce D.

“When he (Bryan Daniels) got there, the boy was still conscious but they (the Joyce D crew) put a line or something on him. The boy couldn’t hold it or move. He was in pain, and they said they couldn’t get him on the boat because when they tried to move him and pull him to the boat, he would cry out in pain,” the elder Daniels said.

Help did finally arrive, and, according to Henry Daniels, it didn’t take long.

“Basically, in the process of this happening, it wasn’t but a few minutes before helicopters got there. They put a swimmer overboard and got him to a Navy hospital,” said the elder Daniels.

When asked about the nature of commercial fishing, the elder Daniels had plenty to say,

“We know the dangers of it. I was born and raised in commercial fishing. That’s all I’ve ever done.  My father did it, his father did it and the father before his father did it,” he said.

“We know the dangers when we go. I’ve picked up drowning people. My wife’s family, the Tate family, have lost several people. This is the first time that I’m aware that he’s ever been to anyone that was down like that,” he continued.

“He (The pilot) couldn’t help himself in trying to get in the boat. We go to a survival school, and our son has been to a survival school. He’s also been to a medical first-aid school, CPR and stuff like that,” the elder Daniels said.

He added: “Commercial fishing is pretty much a matter of depending on yourself and your friends that you got in the fishery and fishing now is regulated so hard with quotas and everything that you’ve got to go when that quota’s there or you just don’t get them.

“It’s not a cake walk. When you get aboard on 34-, 35-degree water, your chances are slim and none in less than five minutes. Last week, when this cold front came through, we’ve got pictures of boats all iced up with the railing.”

Brian Daniels has been fishing more than 15 years. The elder Daniels said his son loves the profession and likes being independent.

“He loves it. He’s just like all the rest of us (who) do. He’s been doing it over 15 years and went straight into the family business after high school.   He’s 51 years old now. I tried to get him to go to college, and he didn’t wanna go. He just wanted to go fishing, and that’s what he’s done ever since.”