Coast Guard searching for 3 fishermen missing off coast of Brunswick

Men were due to return Wednesday; attempts to contact vessel have been unsuccessful

BRUNSWICK, Ga. – The Coast Guard is searching for three men on a 31-foot fishing boat 80 miles off the coast of Brunswick, Georgia.

The owner of the boat, the Carol Ann, said he hired a crew of three men who failed to return on Wednesday, as scheduled.

The owner of the Carol Ann told Coast Guard members that the crew extends fishing trips to maximize their catch, but he grew concerned Friday because his last communication with the crew was six days before.

Sector Charleston and Sector Jacksonville tried to contact the Carol Ann via VHF-FM channel 16 but got no response.

Sector Charleston received a report from a good Samaritan that he might have seen a vessel matching the description of the Carol Ann on Wednesday -- the day the boat was due to return.

The Coast Guard said the missing men are Tyler Barlow, Caleb Wilkinson and Dalton Conway.

News4JAX spoke with members of the mens’ families. “It’s just been horrible. The not knowing is just what’s really killing all of us. We just want them found,” said Jennifer Wilkinson who’s the mother of Caleb. “We have no idea. We’ve had no contact. The couple of leads we did have where they said they got visuals of them has given us hope. So we just want to keep getting leads in if anyone has laid eyes on them or seen them we want to know where as soon as possible.”

Wilkinson said the families are slated to have a meeting with Coast Guard officials around noon Tuesday in Brunswick for an update on the search.

Other people in the local maritime community are surprised they haven’t been found yet. “Every boat here has an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon). Just about… if you go down it activates. Shows your location. So, I mean if they got hit by a rogue wave and they were all asleep and couldn’t find the EPIRB, the batteries were dead. That’s practical. … they were in the drink before they knew what was happening. That’s very strange,” said Michael Gill who knows members of the crew.

Involved in the search are:

  • Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater
  • Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City
  • Coast Guard Air Station Savannah
  • Coast Guard Station Brunswick
  • Coast Guard Cutter Ibis
  • Georgia Department of Natural Resources

So far search crews have scanned more than 20,000 square miles from Brunswick to Charleston. Anyone with information that might help search efforts should contact Sector Charleston at 843-740-7050.

About the Author:

Scott is a multi-Emmy Award Winning Anchor and Reporter, who also hosts the “Going Ringside With The Local Station” Podcast. Scott has been a journalist for 25 years, covering stories including six presidential elections, multiple space shuttle launches and dozens of high-profile murder trials.