Third Papa’s Girl crewman found, search continues for fourth

Published 7:22 pm Tuesday, January 14, 2020

HYDE COUNTY — A third crew member from the Hyde County fishing vessel Papa’s Girl was found last week, and the search continues for the final person still missing from the wreck.

N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission Area Sgt. Daniel Kennedy confirmed that searchers located and recovered the remains of crewmember Keyron “Breezy” Davis at around 11:30 a.m. Friday near the wreckage from Papa’s Girl.

The search for the final missing crewmember, Sammy Douglas, was still ongoing as of Tuesday afternoon.

“We’ve been out there every day since it happened,” Kennedy said, adding that there have been at least two NCWRC officers working the search the whole time.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the ship overturned at around 7 p.m. last Tuesday, prompting crewmembers to activate an emergency position indicating radio beacon. The Coast Guard was able to pull two crewmembers from the water that night, Captain F.G. Gibbs and Benjamin Poe.

Both men were hypothermic and were flown to Sentara Albemarle Hospital in Elizabeth City. Gibbs died at the hospital last Wednesday, and Poe was released later that day after his injuries were treated. The Coast Guard continued its search for Davis and Douglas through Thursday afternoon, with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission taking the lead thereafter.

Kennedy says poor weather conditions, strong winds and rough waters have been the biggest hindrances as search crews continue to cover a large area of water in the past few days.

On Friday, when Davis’ remains were located, the recovery effort involved a wide variety of resources, including two Wildlife Resources Commission boats, three Division of Marine Fisheries boats, a boat from Bath Volunteer Fire Department, members of the Sidney Dive Team, personnel from the Hyde County Sheriff’s Office, members of the Bunyan Volunteer Fire Department, rescue personnel from Hertford County and N.C. Emergency Management.

While no divers were utilized in the recovery, the teams from Bunyan VFD and Hertford County used sonar equipment to find Davis’ body. Kennedy said searches of the area and the surrounding shoreline would continue this week in the attempt to locate Douglas.

While searchers continue the recovery efforts on the water, there has also been a strong outpouring of support for the families who lost loved ones in the tragedy. As of Tuesday, a fundraiser by the Gibbs family to help cover medical and funeral expenses for the crewmembers had raised a total of $13,760 in six days.

“We’re very thankful for everything that they’re doing so far,” fundraiser organizer Leslie Gibbs said.

Gibbs hopes to raise at least $5,000 for each of the families to provide funerals for the three lost crewmembers, and to cover Poe’s medical bills. Because Papa’s Girl didn’t carry medical or life insurance for its crew, the expenses fall to the families.

The Facebook fundraiser, which can be accessed at, will remain live through Jan. 31 for anyone willing to give. Donations can also be made in person at any First National Bank branch, including local branches at 1422 Carolina Ave. in Washington, 80 Main St. in Swan Quarter and 35050 U.S. Highway 264 in Engelhard. Deposit/donation slips must be made out to Nina Gibbs/Papa’s Girl Fundraising. Both names must appear on the slip for the family to receive the funds. Once gathered, funds will be split four ways among the crewmembers’ families, Leslie Gibbs said.