back to top

Here Are The 28 Americans Lost At Sea In Hurricane Joaquin

El Faro disappeared in the Caribbean amid Hurricane Joaquin last week, along with a crew of 33, including 28 members from the U.S. and five from Poland.

Originally posted on
Updated on

A cargo ship carrying 28 crew members from the U.S. and five others from Poland vanished last week after stalling off the Bahamas as Hurricane Joaquin closed in.

On Wednesday, the Coast Guard called off the search for El Faro survivors after scouring tens of thousands of square nautical miles.

The 735-foot vessel sank during the massive storm after issuing a distress call reporting that it had lost power. The U.S. Coast Guard only found one unidentified body during the ensuing search.

While authorities have not officially identified the crew, their profiles have started to emerge in interviews with family and on social media.

Here's what we know so far:

Capt. Michael Davidson, 53

Captain of #El Faro, Michael Davidson, has spent a lifetime on the water #Maine http://t.co/JDbFMfaI8k

Advertisement

Raised in South Portland, Maine, family and friends described the captain of El Faro as a mariner who was comfortable with the sea since he was a teenager.

According to the Portland Press Herald, the 53-year-old was a deckhand when he was in his teens, then graduated from the Maine Maritime Academy in 1988.

He worked for Casco Bay Lines, then for Arco and ConocoPhillips, before working for TOTE Maritime.

A married father of two, friends and family described him as a "meticulous sailor" who was "very safety conscious."

"My husband is extremely capable, he has extensive training," his wife Theresa told the Daily Mail. "If anyone can handle a situation like that, it's my husband."

Danielle Randolph, 34

Danielle Randolph,Rockland, ME, is one American on the #ElFaro http://t.co/iBWYD80S7A … http://t.co/F7oYYnMUUG

Randolph served as second mate aboard El Faro when the cargo ship went missing last week.

The 34-year-old graduated from the Maine Maritime Academy in 2004, according to NBC News.

Her mother told the news network that despite her small size, the mariner didn't affect her work at sea.

"She is usually the only female aboard the ship, but even though she is a short little girl, she can handle her own well," Laurie Bobillot, of Rockland, Maine, told the network. "She's an avid Barbie doll collector and lovest to dress up retro style and shop and bake. Ever since an extremely young age, she wanted to work on the ocean."

Lashaun Rivera, 32

The father of three from Jacksonville, Florida, Rivera reportedly had a fourth on the way.

His stepfather, Robert Green, told NBC News the 32-year-old always dreamed of seeing the world.

Rivera was El Faro's merchant seaman and cook when it presumably sank in high seas.

Despite the dire circumstances, his stepfather said he and his family were keeping hope that Rivera may be found alive.

"Right now, I think it would be robbery to think about anything else other than what is very important right now," Green told NBC News. "I believe he is fighting with everything he has with him. If there's a fight to be fought, he's fighting."

Advertisement

Holland was a new resident to Wilton, Maine, but grew up in Jay, friends and family told WGME.

He is an an engineer.

Friends said he was an avid outdoorsman who liked to fish and hunt. He played football in high school, and graduated from the Maine Maritime Academy in 2012, according to NBC News.

His mother, Deb Roberts, told the network he began serving on cargo ships three years ago.

Dylan Meklin, 23

Just spoke w/ Dylan Meklin's family & his high school sweetheart's family.She's waiting for him in Florida #ElFaro

El Faro's voyage was the first for 23-year-old Meklin, his aunt, Deborah Dyer, told the Press Herald.

He was El Faro's third-assistant engineer when the ship was lost in the Atlantic in the midst of Hurricane Joaquin.

Meklin graduated from high school in 2010 and had recently enrolled in the Maine Maritime Academy as part of a five-year program.

Dyer told the paper it wasn't sailing that interested Meklin, as much as the construction and engineering part of the job.

Advertisement

Howard Schoenly, 50

#WINKnews has learned a 4th crew member on El Faro calls SWFL home. Howard Schoenly was an engineer on board.

Schoenly, the ship's second engineer, has been a sailor for 25 years, NBC News reported.

The sailor grew up in East Rockaway, New York, and lives with his wife in Cape Coral, Florida.

His brother, Steven Schoenly, told Newsday he was in charge of engines of the cargo ship.

"He was an incredible person, caring, a heart of gold, loved his family, loved his wife," he told the paper.

Keith Griffin, 33

Winthrop HS football coach says Keith Griffin's a warrior, holding out hope he's survived #ElFaro ordeal. #FOX25

An engineer, Griffin graduated from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in 2005.

He was originally from Winthrop, Massachusetts, before moving to Fort Myers, Florida.

Griffin's wife is expecting twins.

She told Fox 25 in Boston she last heard from him via email. He told her he had an early dinner and was going to try to go to bed, though he worried he might not get much sleep because of an approaching storm.

She told the news station her husband had sailed through other storms and she didn't think this time would be any different.

Advertisement

Shultz is a crew member of the cargo ship.

According to NBC News, the 51-year-old graduated from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York, in 1984.

He lives in Cape Coral, Florida.

Crew member on board the cargo ship. He is from Bokeelia, Florida, according to NBC News.

Advertisement

Frank Hamm, 49

@MorganStateU alumni and Baltimore native Frank Hamm, 49, amoung the missing #ElFaro crew members. @cbsbaltimore

A merchant marine, Hamm grew up in West Baltimore before heading out to sea, according to the Baltimore Sun.

The 49-year-old graduated from Woodland High School in 1984 and attended Morgan State University.

He moved to Florida in 1995 and became a merchant marine in 1999.

Louis Champa Jr., 51

A #DaytonaBeach man, Louis Champa, was among crew lost when #ElFaro sunk during #Joaquin: http://t.co/01tRcH5QBm

Champa followed in his father's footsteps to become a merchant marine 17 years ago, his mother Valma Champa told NBC News.

"He loved what he did, and did a great job at what he did," Valma Champa said.

About two years ago, Louis began working with TOTE Maritime, the company that owns El Faro.

Advertisement

Jeffrey Mathias

Family of missing MA sailor Jeffrey Mathias call him ‘center of their world“ & ask for prayers #ElFaro #WCVB

Mathias graduated from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, where a moment of silence was held Tuesday, according to CBS Boston.

His wife, Jenn, issued a short statement describing him as a son, brother, husband, and father of three children.

"Please continue to pray with us for all members of the El Faro and for their families," she said.

Jones was among the crew of El Faro when it went missing in the Atlantic, along with his cousin James Porter, according to The Florida Times-Union.

Jones has been a merchant mariner for about 20 years, relatives told the paper, describing both men as fighters.

The 38-year-old man has been married for 17 years and has five children, the youngest being 10 years old, according to The Florida Times-Union.

He graduated from Paxon High School, and owned a restaurant called Wing Palace.

Advertisement

Porter, along with his cousin James Jones, worked as merchant marine for about 20 years, according to The Florida Times-Union.

Relatives described them both as fighters who would have battled for their lives despite the conditions.

Porter liked playing golf, pool, traveling, and producing music in his home studio, his wife told the paper.

Carey Hatch, 49

An avid fan of Florida State University's football team, Hatch told his dad to make sure his team kept winning before heading out in El Faro, according to the St. Augustine Record.

"We're just hopeful," James Hatch told the paper.

Advertisement

Described as full of energy, Mariette Wright's family knew the 51-year-old always felt at home on the sea.

"She couldn't live without being on the sea somehow or somewhere," her mother, Mary Shevory, told station News 4 JAX.

Roosevelt "Bootsy" Clark, 38

facebook.com

Known to his friends as "Bootsy," Clark is a father of three, according to The Florida Times-Union.

He liked the job on the El Faro because of the camaraderie and the chance to see the world, Roosevelt Williams told the paper.

"He liked experiencing things and bringing back what he learned to show his family and give them a better life," Williams told the paper.

Larry Davis

Family members shared this picture of Larry Davis, one of the #ElFaro crew members. @FCN2go

Advertisement

A military veteran, Davis was described as a life-long mariner, according to station News 4 JAX.

He was married for 39 years and has two children and two grandchildren, according to the news station.

He came from a family of seafarers, his daughter Carla Newkirk told The Florida Times-Union.

Roan Lightfoot, 54

Here's a pic of Roan Lightfoot. He was on El Faro. #ElFaro #ANjaxBreaking

A married father of two, Lightfoot has been sailing since 1981, The Florida Times-Union reported.

Stephen Parker, who sailed with Lightfoot, told the paper that he was an "easy-going" sailor.

Advertisement

Thomas is believed to have been an oiler on El Faro, working in the cargo ship's engine room.

Marvin Hearman, who knows Thomas, told The Florida Times-Union the mariner was an encouraging man who had been sailing for a long time.

Lonnie Jordan, 33

The Jacksonville, Florida, resident found that he loved traveling by sea when he attended seaman's school in Baltimore, his grandmother Faye Cummings told The Florida Times-Union.

He's worked on a ship for 13 years as a cook, she said, as well as any other duties that were asked of him.

Theodore Quammie

Quammie was described as a positive mariner who worked in the steward department of the cargo ship, El Faro.

Stephen Parker said he worked with Quammie for more than 20 years. He told told The Florida Times-Union that he trained with Quammie, who always told him to pack extra things like water, fruit, and other liquids.

Advertisement

Richard Pusatere graduated from Archbishop Stepinac High School and then attended SUNY Maritime College for a career at sea, his friends and family told The Journal News.

Despite the Coast Guard calling off rescue efforts Wednesday, his family said they were still holding out hope the 34-year-old mariner would be found.

"There's a glimmer of hope," his father, Frank Pusatere told the paper.

Pusatere is married and is father to a toddler daughter.

Man with ties to CT among those on the sunken ship El Faro. Mitchell Kuflik graduated Fitch Senior High 2007. #WTNH

A resident of Brooklyn, New York, Kuflik grew up in Groton, Connecticut, news station WTNH reported.

He attended the Maine Maritime Academy after graduating from Fitch High School in Groton.

Salvador Hernandez is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.

Contact Salvador Hernandez at salvador.hernandez@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.