Search for missing officer suspended

Stephen Bond (Photo courtesy Ocean Springs Police Dept.)
Stephen Bond (Photo courtesy Ocean Springs Police Dept.)

By Brad Kessie - bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Wednesday evening, the U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search for missing Ocean Springs officer Stephen Bond. It is now considered a recovery mission. However, the law enforcement community remains hopeful that Bond will somehow be found alive, either floating in the Mississippi Sound or sitting on a barrier island.

It was a Sunday afternoon storm that toppled a 21 foot boat and started a chain of events that led to Bond's disappearance.  Now, another storm is heading this way. So every second is critical to the men and women who are desperately trying to find the missing Ocean Springs police officer.

That's why Bryan Wallace looks out toward the water and feels so helpless.

"I don't see answers.  I don't see why we can't find him," the Ocean Springs K-9 officer said.

Wallace spent his two off days on a boat searching for his colleague.  But he was pulled off the water to rest for a few hours before his Wednesday evening patrol shift began.

"Frustrating, yes. Disheartening in a sense," he said about not being part of the search anymore.  "I wanted to stay out there and search until I could find him."

Officer Bond disappeared on Sunday when a small boat capsized near Horn Island.  The four others with him that day were all rescued on Monday.  And they were all wearing life jackets.

"We have some of the best resources available out here working.  We should be able to find him," Wallace said.  "I don't understand why.  And there's a lot of disheartening experience, a lot of uncertainty."

Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd has his own, very personal reason for spending so much time searching for the missing Ocean Springs police officer.  He lost his own son in an unexplainable accident.

"I know exactly what his mom is feeling.  So we're just going to keep searching, that's all we can do," Byrd said.

Richard Cayton joined the search on Wednesday.  He's with the Mobile County Sheriff's Department.  And he was familiar with how the currents can dictate where a body may float.

"With this storm coming, it might take him to Louisiana, way down there near Venice," Cayton told officers at the Ocean Springs Harbor.

When four children were thrown off the Dauphin Island bridge, one body was recovered in Louisiana. So, the Jackson County Sheriff's Department chopper headed toward Chandelier Island -- 30 miles from the spot where Bond vanished.

"We've just gotta keep searching.  That's all we can do," said Byrd.

Wallace wished he could do more.

"It's very frustrating.  It's very mentally exhausting because the whole time you're thinking what have we missed? Where have we not looked at? What if we passed him? What if he's standing out there on an island and sees everyone, and we're just going around him?"

According to Lt. Cooper of the New Orleans Coast Guard station, the search and rescue operation came to a close at 5pm Wednesday evening. The search and recovery mission continues and will do so indefinitely. The Coast Guard, as well as DMR, will be continually searching. And as water conditions improve, the Ocean Springs Police Department will have its boat out searching as well.

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