Private agencies join the search for missing boater

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

By Sylvia Hall - bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - The Coast Guard may have called off its rescue mission for missing boater Stephen Bond, but the family's quest to find him is far from over.

Bond's family is passing out missing person flyers all over the Gulf Coast, from Alabama to Louisiana.  They are also still searching by boat.

Texas Equusearch, a private agency that searched for Natalee Holloway and Caylee Anthony, has picked up the case and is helping the family find their loved one. The family has also been contacted by a special K-9 unit, VK9 Scent Specific Search and Recovery Unit. The team is traveling from Maine to help in the search.

Other agencies will also be using digital technology to comb the beaches and water for any sign of the missing officer.

The family said the groups coming in to help them operate solely on donations. They said they are footing much of the bill on their own.  Anyone interested in helping can call (228) 872-2452 or (205) 531-4888.

Stephen Bond has been missing since May 17th, when the boat he was in capsized in a storm off Horn Island. The other four people who were thrown from the boat were rescued Monday, May 18th from the Mississippi Sound, northeast of Ship Island. Bond was the only one without a life vest.

The official search and rescue mission ended Wednesday night, but his family maintains that he is alive, and vows to keep up the search until he's found.

Bond has been a patrolman with the Ocean Springs Police Department since 2008, when he transferred from Gautier.  He has a wife and two small children, 9-month-old Rhilee and 7-year-old Ethan.

An emergency fund for his family has been set up in his honor at Regions Bank.  Anyone wishing to donate to that fund can go to any Regions Bank branch, and ask for the Stephen Bond account.

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