Fundraiser to help cover funeral, medical costs for Papa’s Girl crew

Published 6:37 pm Friday, January 10, 2020

HYDE COUNTY — The families of the three crew members lost and the one who survived when the Hyde County fishing vessel Papa’s Girl capsized earlier this week are seeking the public’s help to cover funeral and medical expenses left by the tragedy.

Fundraiser organizer Leslie Gibbs is a cousin to both Captain Floyd Guy “F.G.” Gibbs, who died after being rescued by the Coast Guard, and Ben Poe, who was left with considerable medical expenses after being treated at Sentara Albemarle Hospital. Two other crew members, Sammy Douglas and Keyron “Breezy” Davis, remain missing after the Coast Guard suspended its search Thursday.

Gibbs said that often, commercial fishermen do not carry life and health insurance for themselves or their crew due to the high costs associated. Such was the case on Papa’s Girl, and she says the lack of insurance has left family members the burden of covering funeral and medical bills, in addition to the pain of losing people they love.

“Sometimes I wonder if the community actually realizes that these guys who go out here and risk their lives to make a living do have families,” Gibbs said. “They’re not just fishermen. They’re husbands, brothers, fathers, grandfathers. Everybody involved had kids and wives. It’s taking a major toll on the families.”

On Thursday, the Gibbs family established a fundraiser via Facebook to start taking in donations. Within a day of going live, the fundraiser had already raised $4,580 of a $50,000 goal, with 81 people donating.

“The community is being amazing,” Gibbs said. “They’re coming together and helping in every way they can. … There are some big-hearted people out here, and everybody’s support has just been very humbling and amazing. The families are very appreciative of it.”

As for Poe, who was released from Sentara Albermarle Hospital earlier this week, Gibbs said his physical recovery is going well. The family asks that his privacy be respected during an extremely difficult time.

“He is recuperating OK, but we’re asking everybody to not approach him with a bunch of questions,” Gibbs said. “In that type of situation, there is trauma associated with it, and he still has to deal with all of that. But he is recovering nicely health-wise and is following up with his doctors.”

The families are currently accepting donations via the Facebook fundraiser, which can be accessed at The family has also established a special account with First National Bank to accept donations as well. All donations should go to Nina Gibbs/Papa’s Girl Fundraising. Both names must be listed on the deposit/donation slips.

“These guys — in my opinion and a lot of the community’s opinion, our commercial fishermen are the heroes of the sea, aside from emergency personnel,” Gibbs said. “It’s crazy what they do to make sure that their families are good and the community is taken care of. Most of them have big hearts and are willing to do whatever. I want to make sure everybody remembers that.”