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Search for Sanderlin continues on Upper Broad Creek

By Francine Sawyer
Sun Journal

Officials searched Upper Broad Creek into the evening Wednesday in an effort to locate a missing New Bern fisherman.

Brian Keith Sanderlin, 47, of Stapleford Road, took his 16-foot Carolina skiff out Tuesday morning. His wife, Joy Meads Sanderlin, called the Coast Guard around 10 p.m. when her husband did not return home.

The Coast Guard and a crew aboard Cherry Point's search and rescue helicopter Pedro began searching and located the boat around 3 a.m., partially submerged in the creek about 1 1/2 miles from Lee's Landing Road in Pamlico County near a N.C. Wildlife boat ramp.

Mark Spillane, Coast Guard Officer in charge in Hobucken, said the boat's motor may have had some type of problem.

At press time Wednesday night, searchers were concentrating on a 100-yard area of the creek where a cadaver dog indicated something could be in the water.

Family members of Joy Sanderlin drove from Elizabeth City to be with her Wednesday. Andy Meads, of Elizabeth City, said Wednesday at the boat ramp, set up as a command center for the search, that his sister "was holding up well."

The Rev. Dwight Williams, associate pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in New Bern, comforted Keith Sanderlin's sister, Sue Edwards, and his father, Bud Sanderlin.

Williams said he was there "to comfort Bud in hopes that if he is alive they'll find him."

David Spruill, Pamlico County emergency services director, said he was told that Sanderlin is an avid fisherman. "He was familiar with this area," Spruill said.

Spruill said underwater divers would have a difficult time searching in the creek.

"The water is black and you cannot see anything," Spruill said.

He said Stanley Kite, Craven County emergency services director, was on a private boat using sonar scanning instruments to search the bottom of the creek.

Waves in the creek when Sanderlin was reported missing were two feet with the water temperature at 51 degrees.

Spruill said the water was as deep as 15 feet, with a hole near the landing about 29 feet deep.

Volunteers and rescue personnel also searched the land on both sides of the creek, some using All-Terrain Vehicles, "hoping against hope that he might have made it to land," said one of the volunteers.

The Salvation Army set up its mobile canteen at the command post handing out hot coffee and sandwiches to all the volunteers.

The incident is the third boating accident in the area since Friday, when one man was killed and another had to be rescued when their boat struck a navigation light in the Newport River. Saturday, a man drowned off Cape Lookout and another was rescued when their boat capsized.