NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — The sister of one of three missing fishermen whose boat sank off of Martha’s Vineyard last weekend is raising money to host a vigil in their memory.
The U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search Monday evening for the men — now identified as Gerald Bretal, Mark Cormier Jr. and Xavier Vega.
Four men were aboard the New Bedford-based boat when it capsized. The fourth fisherman, identified as Ernesto Santos, was rescued by the Coast Guard about an hour and a half into the search.
Cormier’s sister, Alisha Marques, was hoping her brother would be found alive, but after speaking with Santos earlier in the day, she now knows her brother may forever be lost at sea.
“It’s rough and it’s hard, but we’re getting through it together as a family,” Marques said.
Marques said Santos explained to her that her brother was able to get off their scallop boat and onto a life-saver, but he couldn’t make it to the life raft.
“He was already face down over the life-saver, so at that point, we’re pretty sure that he might have inhaled salt water, so at that point, we’re pretty sure he’s passed,” Marques said.
She said hearing what happened to Cormier provided the closure she and her family needed — and now they’re hoping his body will be found and returned home.
As they grapple with their loss, Marques and her family are raising money for a vigil honoring her brother and his fellow fishermen.
“It’s not just for my brother, the vigil is to try and support all of the families who have already gone through this tragedy,” she said.