Gulf search continues - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Gulf search continues

Jeremiah Giffin's Parents Jeremiah Giffin's Parents
The Hutchinsons The Hutchinsons
Matthew Hutchinson Matthew Hutchinson
Jeremiah Giffin Jeremiah Giffin
Amanda Player Amanda Player

November 11, 2003
by Ashley Harper

Keaton Beach, FL-- This is day three of the search for four South Georgia boaters missing in the Gulf of Mexico.

"None of us, any of the family remembers are ready to give up," says Irvena Giffin, Jeremiah Giffin's Mother.

The friends set sail off Keaton Beach Saturday and never returned to land. Still no word on the whereabouts of the four boaters from Lowndes and Brooks counties.  The Coast Guard has found no sign of wreckage and is still searching for survivors.

It's a waiting game for four South Georgia families at the Keaton Beach Marina. "We want this search to continue for as long as it takes, and we're not giving up," said Danny Hutchinson, Matthew's Father.

24-year-old Matthew Hutchinson, 23-year-old Jeremiah Giffin, 20-year-old Amanda Player, and 38-year-old Dominic Barros have been missing since Saturday. "We have no idea what happened," said Irvina Giffin. "All we know is they left here and never came back."

The four left the Keaton Beach Marina around noon Saturday headed about 20 miles off shore. They were in Hutchinson's 20 foot Seacraft, which was fully equipped with electronics and lifejackets.

"They had the GPS, radios, extra batteries, life preservers, and everything they needed," said Hutchinson. 

The seas were calm when the group set sail, but climbed to 6 to 8 feet as the day passed. Danny Hutchinson says his son is an experienced boater and knows how to handle the ocean. "If I was out there and something went wrong, I'd want to be with him, because he knows what to do," said Hutchinson. "My only worry is that something happened to quick for him to react."

The Coast Guard is searching 24 hours a day in the air and on the water. "They've got some boats out there, a C-130, HH-60, and another chopper looking for them in the sky, and they're doing a great job," said Hutchinson.

And these families won't leave until their loved ones are found. "I'm not going anywhere until my son is accounted for," said Irvena.

The four boaters worked together at Matthew's father's business, Hutchinson Construction, in Valdosta.

This story has generated numerous emails and phone calls from not only people here in Southwest Georgia, but from other states, offering support and prayers to the families.

posted at 4:45PM by dave.miller@walb.com