PEI

Joint Rescue Centre ends search for missing P.E.I. fisherman

The search for 23-year-old fisherman Jordan Hicken, who went overboard early Tuesday morning off the North Shore of eastern P.E.I., has been officially called off.

Case handed over to RCMP as missing persons file

This area of the North Shore is a close-knit community where everyone knows everyone, says St. Peters Deputy fire Chief Dean Lewis. (Julien Lecacheur/Radio-Canada)

The search for 23-year-old fisherman Jordan Hicken, who went overboard early Tuesday morning off the North Shore of eastern P.E.I., has been officially called off.

The Joint Rescue Centre in Halifax, which had been co-ordinating the search, said at about 8 p.m. on Twitter they were handing the case to P.E.I. RCMP. RCMP said they are treating it as a search for a missing person.

Kings District RCMP said weather will determine when the search will resume and a decision will be made Wednesday morning.

Police said P.E.I. Ground Search and Rescue teams may be deployed, but that is also weather-dependant.

High winds are forecast for Wednesday.

As many as 60 local boats from Naufrage, North Lake and Redhead harbours were searching for Hicken Tuesday night. Most had returned to shore by dark.The Canadian Coast Guard, RCMP and firefighters from St. Peters were also involved with the search.

Maj. Mark Norris, officer in charge of the Joint Rescue Centre in Halifax, said the call came in just before 5:30 a.m. about a man in his early 20s who went into the water near Naufrage.

Some of what is believed to be Hicken's clothing was found in the water, Norris said early Tuesday afternoon. 

Jordan Hicken was an experienced fisherman, his family says. ( Jordan Steven Lee Hicken/Facebook)

Hicken is from Montague and was fishing with his father, Trevor Hicken. His family says he is an experienced fisherman who has fished for several years, including in Nova Scotia.

A coast guard vessel from Souris was also on the scene along with a helicopter and a fixed-wing aircraft.

Firefighters from the area had been helping in the search along with Coast Guard and other local fishermen. (Julien Lecacheur/Radio-Canada)

On Tuesday afternoon Norris said buoys dropped in the water to track currents and gather other data measured the water temperature at 4 C.

"We went down this morning after we heard and had a quick look but there's not much we can do. The right people are looking for him, hopefully he'll be found soon," said local fisherman Colby Cheverie after he came back to port. 

"It's a little upsetting. He's a good friend, we've been friends for a long time, went to school together, so it's a little nerve wracking," Cheverie added. 

Searchers had been looking for Jordan Hicken since about 5:30 a.m. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Cheverie noted the weather on the water was "a little foggy."

St. Peters Deputy fire Chief Dean Lewis said visibility was poor early in the search, but improved later in the day.

This area of the North Shore is a close-knit community where everyone knows everyone, he said, and everyone was trying to help out as best they could by searching or supplying food and hot coffee.

"It's really been a great effort by everybody."

Local fire departments helped with the search along the shore. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Steve O'Brien, mayor of the nearby town of Souris, said fishermen "deserve our appreciation" for their courage.

"Every day when the fishermen go out we realize they exhibit bravery in their everyday duties," he said.

"Most churches have a blessing of the fleet — and it's for good reason — before the season starts."

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With files from Brian Higgins, Stephanie Kelly and Julien Lecacheur