Fundraiser started for crew of fishing boat that sank in North Carolina

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Papa’s Girl, a commercial fishing boat that sank in Pamlico Sound in North Carolina on Jan. 7, 2020. Photo courtesy of Leslie Gibbs.

— By Carol Vaughn

A fundraiser has been started for the families of the crew of Papa’s Girl, a commercial fishing vessel that sank Jan. 7 in Pamlico Sound.

Captain Floyd Guy “F.G.” Gibbs, 66, owner and captain of Papa’s Girl, died at a North Carolina hospital after he and another crew member, Ben Poe, who survived, were rescued by the Coast Guard, according to television station WITN.

The Coast Guard suspended its search for two other crew members on Jan. 9, according to a press release.

The missing men were identified by WITN as Sammy Douglas and Keyron Davis.

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard’s Fifth District command center received a distress signal Tuesday night from an emergency position indicating radio beacon registered to Papa’s Girl.

A 47-foot motor lifeboat crew from Coast Guard Station Hatteras Inlet and an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City were launched to respond.

The two men were located by the aircrew and transferred to Sentara Albemarle Hospital in Elizabeth City, according to a press release from the Coast Guard.

Gibbs later was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The Coast Guard continued the search for the other two crew members on Wednesday and Thursday, but suspended the search Thursday afternoon, after the Coast Guard and partner agencies searched around 1,170 square miles.

Involved in the search were Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City; Coast Guard Station Hatteras Inlet; Coast Guard Station Oregon Inlet; North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission; and North Carolina Marine Patrol.

“The marine environment is a dangerous place to work because of the cold water, rough seas and high winds,” said Rear Adm. Keith Smith, commander of the Fifth Coast Guard District. “At this point, we’ve decided to suspend further search efforts for the two missing mariners, pending further information. Our thoughts are with the families and we are very grateful to the master of the vessel, whose EPIRB saved the life of the survivor.”

More than $12,000 from more than 200 donors was raised in four days in an online fundraiser,  Papa’s Girl Sinking/Family Assistance fundraiser on Facebook, at https://www.facebook.com/donate/458927894773275/.

Additionally, donations may be made at any First National Bank branch. Deposits can be made to Nina Gibbs-Papa’s Girl Fundraiser at any branch or mailed to FNB, P. O. Box 337, Engelhard, NC 27824.

Donations will be split among the families, according to the Facebook page.