HELP US: Family of missing man makes plea for residents to assist

HELP US: Family of missing man makes plea for residents to assist
Bahamian Stephen Sawyer, 45.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — As the search continues for missing pilot Clifford Livingstone Dean and his passenger, Stephen Sawyer, relatives of the passenger yesterday urged residents, particularly those on Acklins, to join the search to find the men.

The single-engine aircraft is believed to have crashed in waters off Salina Point, Acklins, last Friday.

The men departed New Providence and were en route to Inagua around 5pm, according to authorities.

Clifford Dean.

However, the passenger’s brother, Charles, and sister, Stacey Neely, said the men were heading to the Dominican Republic, where they conducted regular business, and were expected to return on Saturday.

“My brother is one of those people who is well equipped and he is always trying to find ways to make things happen,” Sawyer said.

“He has always explained how he is going to get out of his place if it goes down.

“So, I feel he still alive.

“We feel he is still alive and it is just a matter of getting to him to rescue him.”

Holding back tears, Neely said it has been difficult to process not finding her brother and Dean.

“We just don’t have no answers and don’t know where he is at right now,” she said.

Sawyer said there was a communication from his brother around 9am Friday and the plane could be tracked from the radar system.

But a short time later, communication was lost.

Sawyer said the family has sought to travel to Acklins since Sunday, but weather conditions have not permitted it.

He said they hope to get to the southern island tomorrow to join in the search.

“We are looking for people to go in the marshes,” he explained.

“With the current pulling, maybe they could have gotten off on one of the little cays or something and [are] just stranded.

“If we can just get into all those marshes and search those places, I am sure we can come up with them.”

According to the family, debris from a plane was found on Saturday, but it was not from the recent crash.

The family launched a Facebook page titled “Rescue Stephen Sawyer and Cliff Dean Bahamas” yesterday in an effort to garner the public’s assistance in finding the en.

Speaking with Eyewitness News around 2pm yesterday, Air Accident and Investigation Department (AAID) Chief Investigator Delvin Major said the latest information from his office and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) indicated that the search was ongoing and had expanded.

The United States Coast Guard is assisting the RBDF in the ongoing search.

“They searched the areas where they believe the aircraft went down, which is around the Acklins area,” Major said.

“They have searched all of the cays near Acklins as well as the coastline of the Acklins island itself.

“Up to today, when I spoke to the defense force around 10am, they still have not recovered the aircraft or located any of the occupants who were on the aircraft.

“The two gentlemen that were on the aircraft have not been located up to this time.”

Asked about the next steps for the AAID, Major indicated that the authority remains on standby as its investigation will occur the moment the aircraft is recovered.

He said in the interim, preliminary information such as weather conditions and the flight plans were being reviewed.

About Royston Jones Jr.

Royston Jones Jr. is a senior digital reporter and occasional TV news anchor at Eyewitness News. Since joining Eyewitness News as a digital reporter in 2018, he has done both digital and broadcast reporting, notably providing the electoral analysis for Eyewitness News’ inaugural election night coverage, “Decision Now 2021”.