Jillian Reynolds was crushed to learn the fisherman who had gone overboard early Tuesday morning was her cousin Jordan Hicken.
She grew up in Lower Montague a mere skip and a hop from Hicken. She was best friends with his sister. Hicken was always around.
“He’s quite the boy,’’ she said.
“He’s really goofy and outgoing and loves being around people…just a really nice guy.’’
She, like many others, was informed through social media that a fisherman was in peril after falling into the water near Naufrage before 5:30 a.m.
A friend told her it was Hicken.
“I like just kind of lost my mind and started crying and everything and then called my mom first,’’ she said.
“It’s just heartbreaking.’’
Reynolds got to the fishing wharf in Naufrage early Tuesday afternoon, looking to provide some comfort and support to family and friends of Hicken, but also to learn of the young man’s fate.
Many had arrived well before Reynolds.
A large number of people were taking part in the search and rescue effort which involved about 50 vessels, a fixed-wing aircraft and a helicopter.
Fire departments from Souris and St. Peters as well as the Coast Guard joined the large effort.
Ground search parties also looked along the shore in case Hicken had been able to swim to safety.
Harry MacCormack of Monticello even hit the shoreline with his two dogs.
“I saw everybody searching,’’ he said.
“I just thought I’d go out and do the same.’’
“I saw everybody searching. I just thought I’d go out and do the same.’’
Numerous family members and friends gathered for hours near the shore.
Some sat in vehicles seeking shelter from the rain.
Others made their way close to the shoreline, sombrely staring out over the large body of water.
One man sat slumped on a bench, clearly despondent.
He called Hicken his best buddy. He was not ready to share his thoughts.
'True, blue fisherman'
Jerry Compton, standing near the water, was willing to talk about Hicken, his nephew and fellow fisherman.
Compton thought Hicken to be 23 or 24 and in roughly his seventh year of fishing.
“He’s a true, blue fisherman,’’ he said.
“He’s a character, for sure. Hard working, hard playing. Fishing and hockey are his life.’’
Compton was doing his best to hold on to hope late Tuesday morning. However, reason was getting in the way of wishing for a positive outcome.
“When you’re on the water all your life, you kind of know the difference too,’’ he said.
“If you go over with a lot of gear on, chances are you are going down.’’
Water temperature was measured at 4 C.
Maj. Amber Bineau with the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre said the science in a general case like this puts the functional time for somebody at one and a half hours, and the survival time at 2.9 hours.
"That’s the general model that we look at, but of course we continue searching," Bineau told The Guardian Tuesday morning.
"We have poured all of these assets towards that until we have exhausted that possibility of recovering an individual."
In a further update at 4 p.m., Bineau said the operation was still an “active search.’’
Norris said as far as they could tell, the man was not wearing a personal floating device.
It was also confirmed that several personal items belonging to Hicken that had blown overboard have been retrieved and matched with the fisherman's last-known location.
The search area was described as “very small”.