Captain, crew of doomed ship loved the sea, despite dangers

AP News
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Posted: Oct 06, 2015 4:13 PM
Captain, crew of doomed ship loved the sea, despite dangers

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The El Faro carried a crew of 28 Americans and five Polish workers when it sank in the Atlantic after losing engine power amid Hurricane Joaquin's 50-foot waves and 140 mph winds. One body has been sighted in the debris area, but the search continues for survivors. Here are some of the people who were on the ship:

THE CAPTAIN:

Michael Davidson, captain, has been described by colleagues as an experienced leader and calm under pressure. Davidson charted the El Faro's course before Hurricane Joaquin swelled into a Category 4 storm. Davidson radioed that the ship had lost power Thursday before officials say it sank in 15,000 feet of water.

Davidson earned a captain's license before he ever went to college at Maine Maritime Academy.

"He was a very squared-away sailor, very meticulous with details, very prudent, which is important when you're working on the water," said Nick Mavadones, a friend since childhood and general manager of Casco Bay Lines.

"Mike loved the water. He was very high energy. He took working on the water and being a captain very seriously," Mavadones said. His home base remained in Windham, Maine, where his wife lives and where they raised two daughters, both students at the University of Southern Maine. Davidson's brother, Greg Davidson, said the family had no comment.

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THE CREW:

Danielle Randolph from Rockland, Maine, served as 2nd mate. Her mother, Laurie Bobillot, said Randolph was obsessed with the sea. "Since kindergarten, on the first day of school she said 'I don't want to go to school. I love the water,'" Bobillot said. Randolph also attended Maine Maritime Academy.

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Mike Holland, a 3rd engineer aboard the El Faro, also attended Maine Maritime. His stepfather, Robin Roberts of Jay, Maine, said Holland was proud of his accomplishments at the academy, was a great engineer and always wanted to be a mariner.

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Mariette Wright, 51, marveled at the things she experienced at sea, like a rogue wave and the Northern Lights, her mother Mary Shevory, said. "She always said, she liked her family, but loved the sea," Shevory said. Wright's title on her LinkedIn page was "able seaman." Shevory, of Massachusetts, said her daughter was brave, and a free spirit. "She's my mariner, my seafarer," Shevory said.

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Frank Hamm III, a merchant marine on the El Faro, is married and has five children and three grandchildren, said Gordon Outlaw, the uncle of Hamm's wife, Rochelle. Outlaw describes Hamm, who grew up in Baltimore, as a responsible, family-oriented man. He has been all over the world in his job and this was supposed to be a relatively short journey to Puerto Rico.

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Roosevelt Clark, 38, of Jacksonville was also aboard the El Faro, said Cynthia Hill, his aunt. She said he loved the sea. "That was his job. He loved his job."

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Crew member Shaun Rivera lived in Jacksonville and was serving as a cook on the El Faro when it disappeared, according to Barry Young, his uncle. Young said his nephew was proud of his career and loved the life at sea, the good pay and quality of life.

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El Faro crew member Dylan Meklin was also a graduate of Maine Maritime, according to a spokeswoman for the school.

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Jeffrey Mathias of Kingston, Massachusetts, graduated from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, which confirmed Mathias was aboard the ship. He graduated in 1996 with an engineering degree.

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Keith Griffin graduated from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in 2005. Griffin was an engineer on the El Faro, according to the school. He came from Winthrop, Massachusetts.

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Howard Schoenly, who lives in Cape Coral, Florida, worked as a second engineer. His wife, Karen Schoenly, issued a statement published by Newsday and other outlets, saying she and Howard have been together 20 years. "He was the most vibrant, colorful person; so full of life. To imagine such a life is gone is unbearable," she wrote.

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Contributing to this report: Jason Dearen from Jacksonville, Florida; David Sharp from Portland, Maine; Tony Winton from Jacksonville; Mark Pratt and Bob Salsberg in Boston; Sarah Brumfield in Washington, DC.