Hopes dim in search for missing crabbers

Luciano Marano
lmarano@ptleader.com
Posted 11/19/20

Two local men were still missing this week after venturing out for a night of crabbing Oct. 9, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

The men’s disappearance prompted a …

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Hopes dim in search for missing crabbers

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Two local men were still missing this week after venturing out for a night of crabbing Oct. 9, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

The men’s disappearance prompted a multi-agency search effort, including the launching of a Coast Guard helicopter from Port Angeles and at least three boats with Salish Rescue, a volunteer search-and-rescue nonprofit organization.

The effort had continued regularly until the weekend of Nov. 6, when a combination of poor weather and lack of developments led to its ultimate cancellation, said Libby Wennstrom, president of the board for Salish Rescue. 

Walter Mead, 60, of Chimacum, and Sean Pickering, 42, of Port Hadlock, were reported missing by their families at about 8 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 10, having left to go crabbing near Marrowstone Island the previous evening.

The men did not return home, but their boat, a 12-foot aluminum skiff, was found in the water near Fort Flagler Historical State Park later that night by a group of campers, according to Jefferson County Sheriff Joe Nole.

Nole said a body was found washed ashore on Camano Island recently, but was determined not to be either of the missing men via a dental record comparison.

Along with the boat used by the missing men, an oar, cooler, and two seat cushions were found. The men’s families said neither crabber had a phone.

“We’re pretty much done at this point,” Wennstrom said last week, expressing sorrow and regret for the men’s families.

A group of about 15 people had searched across a wide expanse of area on more than a dozen occasions since the men went missing, Wennstrom said, including sessions using underwater cameras and sonar.

With winter weather imminent, she said the searchers’ luck would undoubtedly not improve, another factor in calling off the effort.

Deputies had searched the Killisut Harbor and Mystery Bay areas, along with Indian Island personnel and Port Townsend police.

Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Mead and Pickering are asked to contact police.

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