Search Continues for Missing Boaters

A group of friends from Valdosta traveled to Keaton Beach Saturday for a daylong fishing trip, but never returned. Family members would say the search isn't going fast enough. They've traveled from Valdosta to Keaton Beach looking for answers, but those are hard to come by.

It looked like the perfect conditions for a fishing trip, but when the wind picked up, so did the seas, posing trouble for a 20-foot vessel with four friends on board. It's the type of boat 24-year-old Matthew Hutchinson, his girlfriend Amanda Player, Jeremiah Giffin and Dominique Barrows were on last Saturday. They left the Keaton Beach marina before noon and haven't returned.

“It's certainly not the best boat to be out in, it's too light to be offshore without another boat with them,” says Tom Hutchinson.

Hutchinson is Matthew's uncle. He was also fishing Saturday, but came in around noon. He says his nephew has years of experience on the water, but according to locals experience doesn't matter when the weather turns bad.

“I've seen so many people who go out there regardless of weather and a couple of them didn't come back,” says beach resident Robert Sadousky.

Family members and local officers hope that's not the case this time- in fact hope is what keeps them going.

“Over the last 27 years I've seen many of these, I know hope and prayer often times prevails in situations like this,” says captain of fish and wildlife, Roy Brown.

It's important to note the boat was fully equipped with life preservers, extra rope, it even had a radio, but nobody has heard from the Valdosta group. Other boats had difficulty on the water last Saturday. Another boat with four folks from Valdosta was recovered Sunday morning around 3 a.m. They too ran into trouble with rough seas.