Missing boater's mother: "Please pray for him"

By Sylvia Hall - bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Susan Vallette's hands shook as she clung to a framed picture of her son, Ocean Springs Police Officer Stephen Bond, while she spoke to WLOX News.

"He's, I'm sure, just out there drifting somewhere," she said through tear-stained eyes.

Bond is still missing after his boat was capsized during Sunday's storms. He is the only one of the five boaters who hasn't been retrieved from the waters of the Mississippi Sound.

The families of the five boaters, Bond, fellow officers Jonathan Navas and Michael Green, Navas's wife Whitney and Green's girlfriend Becky Welch, all waited most of Monday morning near the Ocean Springs Police Department.

Anxiety turned to joy around 1 p.m. for all families except Bond's, when the other four were found alive.  Now Bond's family is the only one left, still clinging to hope for his safe return.

"Stephen's a marine," said Vallette.  "He was a marine before he joined the police department, he is very strong.  He's in physically good shape, he knows survival, he knows what to do.  My understanding is he helped the other four boaters get help and get to safety.  And he was trying to stay with the boat without a life jacket."

"The search for officer bond is still undergoing," said Steven Futral with the Ocean Springs Police Department.  "The search for one is still as important as the search for all of them was."

It's up to the Coast Guard to call off the official search, but the Ocean Springs Police Department wont stop until Stephen Bond is found.  Most of the off-duty officers are already planning to search the islands Tuesday.

"I had confidence we were going to find our people and I still have confidence we're going to find the last one," said Futral.

Until then, one mother has one request.

"I want any and all fishermen, people on the shore, anyone who can see him to please help him," Vallette said.  "He needs help.  He's a good man, he's a good person, he fought for his country, he protects the citizens.  He's a good father, good husband, good brother.  And all prayers.  I want everyone on the coast to please pray for him."

Bond's family is also searching in their own boat.

Bond has a wife and two young children.  He's worked with Ocean Springs Police Department since 2008, when he transferred from Gautier.

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