Missing boaters

Floyd Nelson, left, and David Stegman

MCSO boat

The Mobile County Sheriff's Office launches a boat to take part in the search for two missing fishermen Friday, Jan. 11, 2019.

Daphne Search and Rescue Boat

This Daphne Search & Rescue boat is among the watercraft utilized in the search for two missing fishermen in Mobile Bay.

MOBILE, Ala. -- Search efforts entered a third day Friday for two fishermen who disappeared Tuesday night.

On Thursday searchers were able to find their capsized boat and the net they were using in Mobile Bay.

From sun up to sun down Thursday, search efforts for 83-year-old fisherman Floyd Nelson and his deckhand, 49-year-old David Stegman, were underway. The efforts began again at daybreak Friday. 

"Right now we're more than 48 hours into it so you're looking at the weather temperature the water is 55 degrees and that's very challenging to survive in and the air temp has dropped to near freezing at night," said Colonel Scott Bannon, Director of Alabama Marine Resources Division. "So it is a very difficult condition for somebody to survive in, it's not impossible it's just very very difficult"

The boat was found capsized in the water north of Gaillard Island, a man-made island just east of the Theodore Ship Channel. The net the men were using was nearby on the island.

Boaters helping out Thursday were able to recover the net and return it to Nelson's family.

Bannon says divers also went underwater to see if the men were in the boat, but there was no sign of Nelson nor Stegman, in or around it.

"It's a routine event for them. As I said me Nelson is almost 84 years old and I've known him my entire career. He's a very good fishermen a mentor to other fishermen. So this is not a new environment for them so it looks like some unexpected weather may have gotten to them," Bannon said.

Officials say the boaters were fishing between the Theodore Ship Channel and Gaillard Island but haven't been seen since.

"Something ain't right. We don't know what it is," said Gus Anderson, Nelson's step-son.

Anderson along with other family members watched as search crews went out this morning.

"He stays busy all the time, been fishing his whole life. That's what's so puzzling about this whole thing you know, he's just been on the water and he's been missing here almost 2 days," Anderson explained.

He says his mother, Nelson's wife, is taking this especially hard.

Officials say it's unlikely that the two men are still alive, yet during these uncertain times, Anderson is still hopeful.

"Oh yeah, I think he's sitting out on the beach somewhere waiting for somebody to come pick him up," he explained.

The United Cajun Navy is looking for volunteers to assist in the search. If you'd like to help, meet them at the Theodore Ship channel at 7 a.m. Friday.

All content © 2018, WALA; Mobile, AL. (A Meredith Corporation Station). All Rights Reserved.  


Toi Thornton is a Reporter. His Bachelor's degree in Broadcast Journalism comes from Dillard University in 2014 and his Master's degree in New Media Journalism from Full Sail University in 2016. He previously worked as the Fox anchor in Lafayette, LA.

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