Rick Beale

Rick Beale

The family of a Florida shrimper lost at sea is hoping for his discovery despite the discontinuing of a Coast Guard search for him.

“I know it’s a long shot, but we still have some type of hope that somebody picked him up out of the water,” said the man’s niece, Denise Beale, a 44-year-old Toledo, Ohio, resident.

Rick Beale, a 62-year-old Fort Myers, Fla., shrimper, went missing off the coast of Port Aransas on Sunday morning, she said. As a shrimper of 42 years, the man routinely sailed out of Florida on long trips along the Gulf Coast.

The search began Sunday morning when Coast Guard watchstanders received a report of a missing person who was last seen aboard his fishing vessel about 4 a.m., according to a U.S. Coast Guard news release.

Officials then issued an urgent marine information broadcast and diverted a search plane, helicopter and boat to find the man.

But after spending about 64 hours examining more than 3,500 square-nautical miles, Coast Guard crews suspended their search Tuesday evening.

Although the man’s niece said her family understands the likelihood that Beale will be found alive is remote, they can’t help but remain hopeful.

She said her family is feeling “numb” as they wait for news, whether it be good or bad.

“What do you do?” said Denise Beale. “Do you have a memorial? This is not like somebody has passed away. As a family, you don’t know what to do.”

She described her relative as a kind man who loved his family and the water.

“He absolutely adored his grandkids,” she said.

The woman also asked anyone with information relevant to Beale’s disappearance to contact the authorities.

“This family is going to need closure,” she said.

Jon Wilcox reports on courts for the Victoria Advocate. He may be reached jwilcox@vicad.com or 361-580-6515.

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Jon covers crime, public safety and the courts at the Victoria Advocate. Born in Huntsville, Ala., he grew up in Atlanta, Ga. and obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism at Texas State University.

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