El Faro disappearance: Who are the missing crew members?
One is about to become a new father and was supposed to soon learn the gender of his expected twins.
Another is a dedicated second mate who told her mother the ship was facing trouble — and sent her “love to everyone.”
As searchers struggle to find survivors from the missing El Faro container ship, stories about some of the 33 crew members on board are starting to emerge.
The cargo ship, headed from Florida to Puerto Rico, disappeared last week near the Bahamas. The U.S. Coast Guard has concluded the boat sank as Hurricane Joaquin barreled across the Caribbean.
The crew members’ families oscillate between talking about them in the present and past tenses — highlighting the uncertainty about what has happened to their loved ones.
Laurie Bobillot saved the email she got from her daughter, a second mate on El Faro, as the ship was about to face Hurricane Joaquin.
“We are heading straight into it, Category 3, last we checked,” Danielle Randolph wrote, according to CNN affiliate WFOX. “Winds are super bad. Love to everyone.”
Bobillot gave only one statement to the media as she waited for word on her 34-year-old daughter:
“All I ask is for you to pray for the crew members.”
In his 13 years as a seaman, 33-year-old Lonnie Jordan was happy to cook and do “whatever else was needed on the ship,” his grandmother Faye Cummings told CNN.
Aside from the sea, she said, Jordan’s loves include his family and his church.
He gradated from school in Baltimore with top honors, Cummings said.
Among his favorite pastimes: taking his little sisters out shopping.
Steven Schultz is a model family man, always putting his wife and children first, his brother said.
Steven Schultz also had “lots of friends. His friends all loved him. He would do anything for anybody,” his brother, Richard, told CNN affiliate WBBH.
“The last thing he did was working for his family. And unfortunately, maybe some bad decisions were made.”
Jeffrey Mathias is the father of three children.
He attended the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, as did fellow crew member Keith Griffin.
The Mathias family issued a statement thanking supporters.
“Jeffrey is our beloved son, brother, loving husband and father. He is the center of our world,” the family said. All of his friends, family, nieces, nephews, as well as his three children ages 3, 5, and 7, his wife, brother, and parents ask for your continued prayers as well as continued respect for our privacy during this difficult time.”
Keith Griffin, a seafarer on El Faro, was supposed to be home soon. He and his wife, Katie, had plans to go to the doctor to learn the gender of the twins she’s carrying.
Like Mathias, Griffin graduated from Massachusetts Maritime Academy, his wife said.
“He’s a strong-willed guy,” Katie Griffin said. “He’d give you the shirt off his back. He was so excited to become a father.”
The last time Katie Griffin heard from her husband was after he had dinner September 30. He said he was up late because the weather was getting bad.
“He told me he loved me,” she said. “And that’s the last time I heard from him.”
Mariette Wright’s love for the water made her career choice a natural fit.
“She loves the sea. She couldn’t live without being on the sea somehow or somewhere” her mother Mary Shevory told CNN affiliate WJXT.
“That is her life. And now I’m so afraid she’s lost it to the sea.”
The exhausted, dry eyes of Andrew Dehlinger tell the story as he waits for news about his son, Jordan.
“I’ve cried so much that I can’t … I have no more tears,” he told CNN affiliate WMTW.
“So he’s got to come — they all have to come back.”
Destiny Sparrow is livid. She said there’s absolutely no reason why El Faro should have sailed near the hurricane with her father, Frank Hamm, on board.
“If they knew that the hurricane was coming, they should have kept them there and waited,” Sparrow told WJXT. “That makes no sense at all.”
The owners of El Faro said the captain had a “sound plan” to avoid Hurricane Joaquin, but that the ship’s main propulsion failed, stranding the crew in the path of the storm.
CNN’s Dominique Dodley and Justin Lear contributed to this report.