The body of Pastor Eurel Hodge was found Saturday morning a few yards off Jabberwock Beach, two days after the vessel which he and three friends used to go fishing capsized.
Acting Commanding Officer of the coast guard, Lieutenant Commander Elroy Skerrit, confirmed that the body was found at approximately 7:20 a.m. by the Coast Guard.
Seventy three year old Hodge of Carlisle, who is a fishing enthusiast, went out with friends: Bishop Derrick Benta, 57, Police Sergeant Winston Lawrence, 52 and Bernard Mills, 68, and they were on what was described as a customary and relaxing fishing trip that began at Parham Wharf at around midnight on Wednesday.
According to reports, the boat became unstable and unmanageable, and it eventually capsized approximately half-mile off Jabberwock Beach.
Benta said, knowing that the boat was pressurised, he went to the top of it because once it turned over, he knew it would not sink and he’d be safe. The others followed and went under the boat.
Sergeant Lawrence reported to state media that he turned to help Mills who said he could not swim and was struggling while holding on to a “jacket”. Pastor Hodge, who was behind Mills and holding on to him, then started struggling in the rough waters. This was just seconds after he told his peers that he was “okay”.
Three of the men were later rescued after a search was launched by other fishermen and the coast guard more than six hours after the men’s 18-foot boat began taking in water.
But, Hodge was nowhere in sight and once night set in, the search was called off, with a plan to resume at daylight the next morning.
Coast guard official, Lieutenant Commander Skerrit reasoned that the choppy sea condition, which the searchers experienced on Thursday, including three-foot swells, could have contributed to the difficulty that the four men encountered with the now-wrecked boat.
He told OBSERVER media that officers found the men without life jackets and “clinging to the hull” of the stricken vessel.
The three were in a state of shock and suffering from cold, having been in the water for an extended period of time. But based on medical checks done when they were brought to shore, they did not require further attention at Mount St. John’s Medical Centre.
Officers from the local coast guard, some of their colleagues from neighbouring Guadeloupe, the Antigua and Barbuda Search and Rescue group and private citizens, conducted an extensive search for Hodge well into Thursday afternoon.
The Guadeloupians contributed a helicopter.
OBSERVER media reached out to the family of the deceased yesterday afternoon, however they were not available for comment at the time of going to press.
Hodge preached at the Parham Pentecostal Church.