'We need help bringing him home:' Family remains hopeful as search for missing crabber continues
WILLAPA BAY, Wash. - After a crabbing boat with a three-man crew sank near Willapa Bay Sunday night, the U.S. Coast Guard has suspended its search for the one man who remains missing, but his family won’t give up hope.
The Coast Guard rescued two of the three men, but did not find 24-year-old Bryson Fitch, a father of three. The Coast Guard on Twitter posted a video and said a helicopter crew from Astoria, Oregon, hoisted two people from a life raft into the helicopter during rough weather and large waves.
It was then that Fitch's family got the call no one wants to hear.
"Two men brought to the hospital, then got another call that it’s Bryson they don’t have," said McKenzie Salas, Fitch’s partner of eight years and the mother of his children.
Salas and Fitch’s sister, along with other family and community members, have been searching everywhere throughout Willapa Bay, hoping to find him out there.
During a 15-hour search, crews from the air, sea, and shore covered 290 square miles throughout Willapa Bay, the coastline, and offshore, according to the Coast Guard.
Search crews found debris from the boat within Willapa Bay, and nearby waters in the Pacific. That indicates the vessel broke apart, according to a Coast Guard statement.
"We need more people and help because Bryson is out there and we’re not going to leave him out there," said Salas. "We need to bring him home. We need help bringing him home."
Loved ones say Fitch could put a smile on anyone’s face, and in return, seeing him happy is what stands out most in his family’s minds.
Salas said Fitch taught their kids about the things he loves: fishing, riding dirt bikes, and crabbing.
Now, she and his sister, Kelsea Broddy, are pleading for the community’s support to bring a loving father back to his children.
"We need help bringing him home," Brody said.
In just a few days, the community has raised over $15,000 for Fitch’s family through a GoFundMe. The family has also created a Facebook page to organize their search efforts.
The cause of the boat's demise is unknown. Nearby weather stations reported overcast skies and winds gusting to 25 mph during the mayday call, with seas predicted at 8-10 feet that evening.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.