Determined volunteers still search for capsized ship missing

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A volunteer and a dog trained to search for cadavers join others looking for survivors of the Seacor Power, a lift boat that capsized on April 13 off the Louisiana coast. Volunteers have been searching by air and boat for any sign of those still missing. (AP Photo/Rebecca Santana)

COCODRIE, La. – The volunteers gather around a map, suntanned fingers tracing over the bayous, lakes and islands where they'll search. They talk about where they've already been and where they'll go today. They make sure everyone has food and water, and knows the radio channel to use. They gather in prayer and then set off for another day searching for those still missing from the capsized Seacor Power.

“Lord, we got some families that are hurting,” says one of the men as nearly 30 people bow their heads in prayer. “Please give us the ability to find something today.”

On April 19, after a search covering more than 9,200 square miles (23,000 square kilometers) and using planes, helicopters and cutters, the Coast Guard officially ended the search for survivors of the lift boat that flipped over in hurricane-force winds about eight miles (13 kilometers) off the Louisiana coast on April 13. In a statement April 27, the ship's owner, Houston, Texas-based Seacor Marine, said it was focusing on salvage operations and recovering the ship.

But from a dock in southern Louisiana, volunteers aren't giving up. They've been setting out in planes, boats and hip-high waders in hopes of finding anyone still alive from the lift boat, a platform ship with retractable legs that services offshore oil and gas facilities.

Nineteen people were aboard the Seacor Power when it failed to weather the storm. Six men were rescued. Six bodies have been recovered from the sea or from divers inside the vessel; seven are still missing.

Scott Daspit still holds onto hope that his son Dylan is alive. Speaking to the people heading out to search, he said any survivors would likely be covered in mud to ward off mosquitos. He urged them to concentrate on the few trees that would provide the only shade in the hot, flat landscape.

In a quieter moment, Daspit said he'd taken hope from a volunteer who told a story of how he'd survived for days floating out at sea.

“It gave me a renewed spirit,” Daspit said. “But I have to assume that ... if we do find anybody alive, they’re going to be very hurt because nobody’s standing up and waving us down.”