Lifejacket found at sea

Lifejacket Found at Sea

by Joe Warmington

Toronto Sun, Thursday, November 10, 1997


Fort Myers, Fla. - It’s a mystery that has everyone scratching their heads in bewilderment.

As the air and sea search of the Gulf of Mexico for Mississauga men Kent Munro, Omar Shearer and David Madott enters its sixth day today, everyone is asking: How could they just have vanished into thin air?

“It’s the strangest thing I have every come across in the more than 40 years of diving out there,” said Ed Korzep, who owns the Underwater Explorers diving school and has 10,000 recorded dives since 1948.  “And I have seen some strange things in the gulf.”

A coast guard ship yesterday found two diving tanks and a lifejacket only half as far from the wreck of the Sea Esta  as a camera bag that was found 35 km away Tuesday.

With each find, family members gathered here gain new hope the men will soon be found.  But each development also has everyone curious about why there’s been no sighting of them.

The families are holding out hope for a miracle, knowing that people have been rescued from the gulf after spending more than a week in the water.

The weather has been clear since the mishap Friday.  Korzep said people in the diving industry can’t understand why the search party hasn’t been able to spot three men in bright-colored wetsuits.  “You would think the coast guard would have been found them by now - something is really strange.”

The coast guard hasn’t ruled out sharks as a possible explanation, but Korzep doesn’t buy it because “sharks have never been a problem in the gulf.”

With each passing day lone survivor Jeff Wandich, 27, also of Mississauga, says he feels worse.

Wandich, who owned theSea Esta, admits wishing he hadn’t panicked and started swimming toward a boat in the distance while the others hudled together, because once he changed his mind and turned back they were gone.

“If the worst happen, I don’t know how I’m going to deal with it,” he said.

The fact he couldn’t find them, he said, is also a mystery to him since he had only been swimming for about 30 seconds before turning back.

Since so many people are asking questions, he fears “people are going to point the finger at me,” which is unfair because “I didn’t abandon them.”

Wandich is using family money to charter a $600-an-hour helicopter.  He had the chopper in the air yesterday.

The whole thing, said Wandich, has been a nightmare since all he wanted to do was show his friends a “good time.”

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