Family clinging to hope for North Charleston boaters missing three weeks

Family clinging to hope for North Charleston boaters missing three weeks

MT. PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) - It's been three weeks since North Charleston neighbors Michael Lawrence, 61, and Joseph McFadden, 77, left for an early morning fishing trip July 8.

According to North Charleston police, the two left from Remley's Point in Mt. Pleasant around 7 o'clock that Wednesday morning.  Family friend Jesse Smalls was also fishing that day, and remembers seeing Lawrence and McFadden near the Charleston Jetties, between Noon and 12:30 p.m.

Smalls said the men joked it was too late in the day to leave with a good catch.

"He stopped and asked me if the fish were biting," Smalls said of McFadden.

"That's the last I've seen of them or spoken to them." he said.

Smalls recalled both men wearing life jackets at the time of their meeting.  He said McFadden was driving the boat, with Lawrence along for the ride.

The next day, Coast Guard crews recovered a 18-foot bass boat the two once occupied nearly ten miles east of Bulls Bay, SC, but still no sign of either man.

"We need to know something," said Carolyn Singleton, Lawrence's sister, and McFadden's sister-in-law.

Singleton said she's called her brother's cell phone daily, only to hear his voicemail each time.

"We put the best face on the outside, but deep down inside it is really, it is really eating away, because, it's been too long."

According to police, both men face medical issues.  Michael Lawrence has a history of high blood pressure, and Joseph McFadden, a history of heart problems and also uses a walker to get around.

"That was one of the things that really puzzled me," Singleton said.  "Why were they out in the water like that?"

Many of Lawrence's family members are still reeling from the loss of two of his brothers within the same week back in March.  His sister said one died of cancer, and the other, during a moped accident.

"The fact that we don't know where they are, and in what condition they're in, it's just heartbreaking," said Lawrence's niece Shanta Mack.

U.S. Coast Guard officials suspended their search after three days, 50 search patterns and nearly 12,000 miles.

Friday, a spokesman with the North Charleston police department confirmed the department's Marine Unit and members of the Metro marine unit continue to search for the missing men.

"I'm just praying and hoping for the best," Smalls said.

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