Family and friends still hold out hope for El Faro’s crew

A vigil of hope is held at Maine Maritime Academy for the missing crew members of the U.S. container ship El Faro, Tuesday evening, Oct. 6, 2015, in Castine, Maine. The Coast Guard has concluded the vessel sank near the Bahamas during Hurricane Joaquin. Four graduates of Maine Maritime Academy are missing. They are Capt. Michael Davidson of Windham, Maine, Michael Holland, 25, of Wilton, Maine, Danielle Randolph, 34, of Rockland, Maine and Dylan Meklin, also of Rockland.
A vigil of hope is held at Maine Maritime Academy for the missing crew members of the U.S. container ship El Faro, Tuesday evening, Oct. 6, 2015, in Castine, Maine. The Coast Guard has concluded the vessel sank near the Bahamas during Hurricane Joaquin. Four graduates of Maine Maritime Academy are missing. They are Capt. Michael Davidson of Windham, Maine, Michael Holland, 25, of Wilton, Maine, Danielle Randolph, 34, of Rockland, Maine and Dylan Meklin, also of Rockland. AP

The U.S. Coast Guard completed another day of searching Bahamas waters for survivors of a sunken cargo ship Tuesday without luck — but family and friends of the missing crew haven’t given up on their loved ones.

The cargo ship sunk during Hurricane Joaquin last week. So far, only the unidentified remains of one the 33 crew members has been found. Of the remaining 32 crew members, 15 have been identified by media.

TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico, the company that owns the El Faro, has not released a full list of the crew, which includes 28 Americans and five Polish people. But at least 15 have been identified in media reports, many from the Jacksonville area. The National Transportation Safety Board sent a team to Jacksonville to open an investigation and TOTE also announced that it will hire a third party maritime firm to conduct its own safety assessment.

On land, hopeful friends and family have filled social media with stories about some of the missing. There are few details about others. Here are sketches of crew members who are missing:

Michael Davidson, 53, captain

Davidson, of Windham, Maine, graduated from the Maine Maritime Academy in 1988 and is a married father of two. His wife, Theresa Davidson, told the Daily Mail, a British paper, that she had the utmost confidence in her husband.

"If anyone can handle a situation like that, it's my husband, so we are hopeful that he's just waiting it out and that they'll be rescued today," she said.

The Portland Press Herald reported that Davidson was a deckhand as a teenager.

Danielle Randolph, 34, second mate

Randolph, a 2004 graduate of the Maine Maritime Academy, was close to her mother Laurie Bobillot. Her Facebook page is filled with pictures of the women watching races together, posing in football jerseys and grinning with a Santa-lookalike.

An email Randolph sent to her mother might have been the last, and darkest, communication from the doomed ship. Bobillot recounted the message to the Washington Post in Jacksonville.

“Not sure if you’ve been following the weather at all,” she wrote, “but there is a hurricane out here and we are heading straight into it. Winds are super bad and seas are not great.”

Randolph liked to dress up in vintage clothes, even donning a dark, ruffled dress for a southern civil war reenactment.

“She is usually the only female aboard the ship, but even though she is a short little girl she can handle her own well,” Bobillot told the Daily Mail. “When she’s home, she’s all girlie girl. She’s an avid Barbie doll collector and loves to dress up retro style, shop and bake. Ever since an extremely young age, she wanted to work on the ocean.”

LeShawn Rivera, 32, merchant seaman and cook

Rivera was a Jacksonville native and a two-year regular on the route between his city and Puerto Rico, the Florida Times Union reported. He was the father of three, soon to be four. The Rev. Robert Green, Rivera’s stepfather, told NBC News that Rivera is a "fighter" who would be leading the charge to help others.

"He came to me one day and he said, 'Pop, I want to go out on the water' and he told his mother, 'I'm going to become a merchant seaman,'" Green told NBC. "And he did everything he needed to do in order to be what he became — and he's been out on the water ever since."

Michael Holland, 25, engineer

An outpouring of love and support for Holland and his mother, Deb Roberts, coalesced on a Facebook page she created — “Making waves for Mike: Bring the El faro crew home safely.” Nearly 3,000 people have shared memories, prayers and photos of Holland, a 2012 Maine Maritime Academy graduate.

Holland loved to fish and spend time outdoors. His best friend, Corey Wells, described Holland as “tough, resourceful and smart.”

Wells said in a Facebook post that Holland is the person he’d want to be with in a challenging situation like this. “I REFUSE to believe that he is doing anything short of everything that he can to make it home. Hope is not lost. He WILL make it back!”

Dylan Meklin, 23, engineer

It was Meklin’s first trip on the El Faro, his aunt, Deborah Dyer, told the Portland Press Herald. He graduated from the Maine Maritime Academy in May.

"He didn't even go to school to be a sailor," she told the paper. "Really, he was more interested in engineering and the building side of things.".

Monday evening, Meklin’s family held a candlelight vigil at the Fisherman’s Memorial in Rockland Harbor Park.

Howard "Howie" Schoenly, 50, second engineer

Schoenly was in charge of the engines on the El Faro, his brother told Newsday. A sailor for 25 years, he grew up in East Rockaway, N.Y. He had an adult son, and he lived with his wife in Cape Coral, FL.

Keith Griffin, 33, engineer

A native of Winthrop, Mass., Griffin is a 2005 graduate of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. The Florida Times-Union reported he moved to Fort Myers.

His wife, Katie Griffin, told the Boston Globe she talked to her husband via phone and email on Wednesday. She said Griffin said he expected to work all night due to bad weather, but he trusted the crew to get through it.

"And then he told me that he loved me," Griffin told the paper.

The couple has been married two years, and she is pregnant with twins, according to the Globe. She was waiting for her husband’s return to find out the gender of the babies.

Steve Shultz, 51, crew member

Shultz lives in Cape Coral, FL., according to the Fort Myers News-Press. He’s a 1984 graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York. He has a bachelor's in marine transportation.

Jeremy Riehm, 46, crew member

He is from Bokeelia, FL., the Florida Times-Union reported.

Frank Hamm III, 49, merchant marine

Family described Hamm as a charitable, god-fearing man who lived being on the ocean, according to the Florida Times-Union.

Hamm’s final text message to his daughter, Destiny Sparrow, before he boarded the El Faro said, ‘I love you,’ she told the paper. He attended Morgan State University in Baltimore before moving to Jacksonville in 1995 with his wife, Rochelle, and joining the merchant marines in 1999, reported The Baltimore Sun.

Hamm’s mother-in-law, Yvette Livingston, told the Times-Union the family doesn’t understand why the El Faro left the safety of Jacksonville and headed into the storm.

"That ship should never have gone," she said.

Carey Hatch, 49

Hatch’s parents, James and Priscilla Hatch, told the Florida Times-Union that prayer is what keeps them going. Their son’s last words to his father were to make sure Florida State University’s football team kept winning. Hatch worked out of the Jacksonville union hall for about eight years, according to the Times-Union.

“We’re just hopeful,” James Hatch told the paper, then paused. “And prayerful.”

Louis Champa Jr., 51, Merchant Marine

The Florida Times-Union reported he is from Daytona Beach.

Jeffrey Mathias

Mathias graduated from the Maine Maritime Academy in 1996 as a marine engineer. “He is the center of our world,” his wife Jen said in a statement. He has three children ages 3, 5 and 7.

Jackie Jones, 38

The Florida Times-Union reported Jones was a 1996 graduate of Paxon School of Advanced Studies, a high school in Jacksonville, who was known to his friends as "Pop."

Mariette Wright, 51

Mary Shevory, Wright’s mother, told the Florida Times-Union that her daughter’s love of the sea began with her first ocean job at 18. Shevory told the paper her daughter was comfortable with usually being the only woman aboard.

“My Mariette had no problem with being the only woman on a ship. In fact, she said it was great.” Shevory said. “She is an adventurer, she always wanted to be out and into the action from the time she was born.”

Roosevelt "Bootsy" Clark, 38

Clark was described as a religious man with at least three children by his close friend and protegee, Roosevelt Williams, the Florida Times-Union reported.

"He gave me pointers. He actually made me who I am today," Williams, 29, told the paper.

Brookie “Larry” Davis, 62

Davis served in the U.S. Marines and worked as a commercial fisherman before turning to the merchant marines for 20 years, his daughter, Carla Newkirk, told the Florida Times-Union

Davis married his wife Terri 39 years ago and lives in Jacksonville. The pair had two children, Newkirk and Derek Davis, who teaches English in Taiwan, the Times-Union reported.

Newkirk told the paper her family has hope Davis survived the sinking.

“My dad is a feisty person,” she said. “We are remaining hopeful because if there’s anything he can do he will do it to stay alive.”

Roan Lightfoot

Lightfoot, of Jacksonville Beach, is a married father of two who has been working at sea since 1981, reported the Jacksonville Beach News.

Shawn Thomas, oiler

Marvin Hearman told the Times-Union he knows Thomas from occasional card games at the union hall. He told the paper Thomas lives in Jacksonville and works in the ship’s engine room as an oiler.

Lonnie Jordan, 33, cook

Jordan attended a seaman’s school in Baltimore, his grandmother, Faye Cummings, told the Florida Times-Union.

"He loves the ship. He loves sailing," she said. "He loved what he did."

She said he was a cook who lived in Jacksonville and has two sisters and a brother. Cummings told the paper the disaster is a "hard blow" for her family, and the family wishes the El Faro had waited to sail away.

"It's in God's hands," she said, "but we feel like they made the wrong decision."

Follow the writer on Twitter @harrisalexc for updates.

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