The U.S. Coast Guard has officially ended its search for the two crew members of the fishing boat that went missing off the coast of Barnegat Light during the early morning hours of February 8.
“We would like to extend our condolences to the families and the fishing community affected by this tragic incident,” said Capt. Scott Anderson, commander of the Coast Guard's Delaware Bay sector. "Suspending a case is never an easy decision to make as first responders.”
The search began shortly after 1:20 a.m. on February 8 when the Coast Guard’s Hampton Roads sector in Portsmouth, Va., received an emergency position-indicating radio beacon alert originating from about roughly 40 miles off the coast of Barnegat Light, according to the Coast Guard.
Anderson said that Coast Guard first responders searched 4,441 square-miles by sea and air for the crew of the Queen Ann's Revenge, later identified as the boat’s owner, Paul Matos, 30, of Berkeley and Dennis Smalling, 34, of Point Pleasant.
When the 46-foot wooden fishing boat was last heard from, conditions were rough. There were 10-foot seas, roughly 25 mph winds and an ocean water temperature of 46 degrees, Anderson said.
Matos’ family got the heartbreaking news earlier on Friday, when they met with the Coast Guard, said Milene Oliveira, his sister.
The Matos family "wants to thank everyone who reached out to us, who prayed for my brother, Paul, and his crew member, Dennis," she wrote on her Facebook page. "We also want to thank the Coast Guard for everything. Unfortunately, my brother and Dennis are presumed lost at sea. Again, thank you everyone, your words of comfort mean everything to us."
Since then, a GoFund Me campaign has been established for Mato’s girlfriend, Amy Romano, and their 5-month-old daughter, Stella, by friend Lauren Ashley of Staten Island. “Any money raised would help towards whatever type of memorial the family would throw, plus it would take some stress off of Amy in this extremely hard time,” said Ashley in her post.
Since the campaign was launched on February 9, nearly $10,000 has been raised toward its $30,000 goal.