Eileen Norman broke down in tears as she spoke about the three St. Lawrence men — her family members — who perished at sea.
“It’s devastating,” she told The Telegram Tuesday. “The three of them are gone.”
She was referring to her brother-in-law, Ed Norman, 67, his son Scott Norman, 35, and his nephew Jody Norman, 42, whose bodies were recovered Tuesday morning from the frigid waters off the coast of the Burin Peninsula on the province's south coast.
As of The Telegram’s deadline, one man was still missing — Isaac Kettle, who is said to be in his early 30s.
The four men left St. Lawrence in Ed Norman’s 36-foot fishing vessel, Sara Anne, about 12:30 a.m. Monday to go crab fishing, Eileen Norman said. When they didn’t return hours later, several other fishermen from the community, as well as the Canadian Coast Guard auxiliary, set out to look for them. A Hercules aircraft from Halifax was also involved in the search, she said.
“We were watching all night and the Hercules would set off a flare for light,” she said. “We were so worried the whole morning. It was way too long for them to be gone.
“Between the phone here at the town and my (personal) phone, it hasn’t stopped. People are wondering what happened.”
According to the Canadian Coast Guard, its Maritime Rescue Sub-Centre in St. John's was advised at 7:58 p.m. Monday that the fishing vessel was overdue returning to St. Lawrence. Working with the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Halifax, the Coast Guard tasked multiple aircraft and vessels to
the search area and continued to search overnight.
The first body was recovered about 5 a.m. Tuesday. The second was pulled from the water about 11:30 a.m. and the third shortly after 1 p.m.
“We’re in complete shock,” said Norman, who is also St. Lawrence’s assistant town clerk and was answering the town hall’s phone most of the day.
The Canadian Coast Guard continued searching for the fourth man, with the assistance of MCTS Placentia, CCGS W Jackman, CCGS Ann Harvey, the Oceanex Connaigra, multiple aircraft from the Department of National Defense and Provincial Airlines, as well as Coast Guard Auxiliary members and multiple other volunteer vessels from the community of St. Lawrence.
The Transportation Safety Board will investigate what caused the tragedy.
The RCMP transported the bodies to the coroner’s office.
Throughout Monday night and Tuesday, social media was filled with posts from people praying for the men’s safe return, and later, with condolences to the families of the men lost.
St. Lawrence Mayor Paul Pike said the entire community is deeply saddened by the tragic news.
“People are devastated and are praying for the families of those four individuals,” he said. “It’s been really difficult. Words are hard to find when you’re trying to describe how people are feeling here. … Right now, there’s just such a sombre mood.”
Pike said the Normans were well-known fishermen in the community. Ed Norman’s father, Ed Norman Sr., was also a fisherman and the family owns a fishing vessel, wharf and stage.
He said two of the men were also volunteer firefighters, while the three younger men (Scott Norman, Jody Norman and Kettle) all had young families. He said Kettle had recently returned home on a turnaround from northern Ontario, where he works in the mining industry.
“All four of them were great citizens. … It’s tragic is so many ways,” Pike said. “The families will need our support right now.
“As a community, we will come together and get through this. We have a reputation of helping each other and that’s what we will do.”
Lt.-Gov. Judy Foote also expressed sympathy.
“Hearts are breaking today in St. Lawrence with the sad loss at sea of three of the town’s residents, while the search is ongoing for the fourth fisherman. I share in the heartbreak with the people of St.
Lawrence,” she said.
“To the families and friends of Edward, Scott and Jody Norman, I offer sincere condolences on behalf of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. We join in the hope of Isaac Kettle’s family and friends for his safe return.”
She went on to say, “While the community of 1,200 in our province has known tragedy over the years, all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians feel the pain when others among us suffer the loss of loved ones, unexpectedly and tragically.
“Tragedies at sea are not uncommon in Newfoundland and Labrador and whenever they occur we come together to offer support, love and prayers.”
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