Find brings hope for lost men

Find Brings Hope for Lost Men

by Joe Warmington

Toronto Sun, November 9, 1994


Copyright 1994 and 1995, The Toronto sun, a division of Sun Media Corporation


Fort Meyers, Fla - A camera bag found floating in the Gulf of Mexico yesterday has renewed hopes that three missing Mississauga men will be found alive.

After the bag was spotted about 40 km southwest of where their eight-metre fibre-glass boat Sea Esta went down Friday, the U.S. Coast Guard stepped up search efforts and kep going overnight.  They said every minute now is crucial should the men be floating together somewhere out at sea.

So far there has een no sign of David Madott, Omar Shearer and Kent Munro, all 25, separated from boat owner Jeff Wandich, 27, hours after the vessel sank.

Wandich swam 10 km to an offshore telecommunications tower and clung to it for 36 hours before being rescued.

Three helicopter, two coast guard cuters and Falcon jet will concentrate on areas north of where the bag was found on the premise the men drifted in the same direction but at a slower rate.

"We're hoping they've managed to stay together," said Petty Officer Gene Maestas last night.

Wandich, a pilot, and his father, Alexander, rented a two-seat plane and joined the search around Florida Keys in the hopes the men may have found their way to one of the many uninhabited islands.

"They could be sitting on it right now and waiting," Munro's stepmother Carol said.

"We will keep searching until we are confident all leads have been exhausted," said the Coast Guard's Maestas, who added it's possible for people to survive up to seven days at sea without food and water.

The families of the three men praised the coast guard's round-the clock efforts.

"Everybody has done a hell of a job," said Peter Munro, an Etobicoke fire inspector.

There's hope, he said, that the men, wearing floating wetsuits in the 25C waters, obtained fresh water from several rainstorms in the past four days.

the families have put up $75,000 U.S. in reward money - $25,000 per missing man for any licensed commercial boat operator who brings them to safety.

"We feel we owe it to them to do whatever we can," said David Madott's father, Bill, a software manager at IBM.

Munro's employer, Tour and Anderson, which has put up $25,000 in reward money, is managing a Metro-area fund to continue the search if the cost guard call it off.

Donations can be sent to the Kent Munro Search Fund, c/o Tour and Anderson, 7490 Pacific Circle, Mississauga, L5G 2A3.

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