Missing fisherman presumed dead
By PAT ARNEY Staff Writer, (609) 272-7204, E-Mail
ATLANTIC CITYlocal fisherman disappeared from a commercial clam and scallop boat on the Atlantic Ocean and is missing and presumed dead, a U.S. Coast Guard spokesman said Friday.
The 165-foot fishing vessel Ess Pursuit notified the Coast Guard at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday that one of its crewmembers was missing, said Petty Officer John Edwards, a spokesman for the Coast Guard's Philadelphia regional office.
Shipmates last saw the man, Timothy Stark, at 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, Edwards said.
The Coast Guard dispatched a 47-foot patrol boat from its Barnegat Station and two helicopters from the Coast Guard's Group-Air Station Atlantic City to search for the man, Edwards said. They searched for nearly 10 hours - from 3:50 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday - before suspending the search.
"Pulling out of searches is one of the harder decisions the Coast Guard has to make," Edwards said. "A lot of factors go into that, such as the size of the search area and the survivability rate."
The water temperature at the time was 37 degrees, he said. At that temperature, Stark's survivability was about three hours. The Coast Guard searched about three times longer than that.
Stark's mother, Atlantic City resident Nancy Titus, said her 37-year-old son lived with her at the Regency apartments on Pacific Avenue. His father is in a nursing home.
Titus said a police officer knocked on her door Wednesday, told her she had to call the Coast Guard and gave her the name and number of a Coast Guard officer to call. When she called, "they told me that they had a search out for my son, and they didn't find him."
Titus said her son has a teenage daughter for whom he paid child support, but that he had never seen her and the family does not know where the girl lives.
It was unclear how many crewmembers were working on the boat when Stark disappeared. Edwards said the Coast Guard did not know. Titus said she was not sure. She said five of her son's co-workers helped her remove his belongings from the vessel Friday. She said its home port is on Maryland Avenue here.
Titus said she spoke Wednesday to the vessel's captain, whose full name she could not recall, but that no one from the company that owns the boat - Myers Enterprises of Mappsville, Va. - called her until after she phoned the company and left a message.
No one from the boat called her either, she said. She initiated the contact Wednesday, when she spoke to the captain.
Stark's girlfriend, Arlene Ciambrano of Atlantic City, said she is concerned about the circumstances surrounding Stark's disappearance because he told her before he left for sea that he had a disagreement with some of his shipmates.
Ciambrano said she last spoke to him Sunday, when he called her by cell phone before he left.
"And then I never heard anymore," she said.
The Press of Atlantic City was unable to reach the vessel's owners for comment Friday evening