“Worst Ending We Could Have Imagined”: Maine Families Learn El Faro Search Is Ending

Four Maine families received the news that they had been dreading on Wednesday - that the Coast Guard is suspending its search for El Faro survivors, calling it a recovery mission, and no longer a rescue.

Of the 33 crew members on the sunken El Faro cargo ship, four were from Maine: Captain Michael Davidson, Michael Holland, Dylan Meklin, and Danielle Randolph.

El Faro is believed to have sunk last week, after encountering Hurricane Joaquin.

As the Coast Guard searched for the ship and survivors, family members from Maine flew down to Florida to be closer to the search.

"It's just been living in limbo for six days, so even though it's not the answer we wanted, we have answers now," said Michael Holland's mother, Deb Roberts.

Roberts said she has been feeling all the support from Maine, through a Facebook page she set up to provide updates on the search.

"The community support has been amazing," she said.

But it's still painful to know that they will not return to Maine with Michael, or his body.

"It's the worst ending we could have imagined," said Roberts.

Danielle Randolph's mother, Laurie Bobillot, also traveled to Florida during the search.

She said she had been holding out hope, but as the days went on, she realized how difficult it would have been for her daughter to survive.

"There's too much devastation," said Bobillot. "From the little bit of the debris that came up, I didn't feel any hope to see them physically. But I have a strong faith, and because of that, I don't need the body to come to terms with it."

The two mothers said they are now planning wakes and funerals for their children in Maine. But before they go home, they will make a stop at a Jacksonville beach.

"We're going to collect some salt water and we'll have a little bit of Mike and Danielle in a bottle," said Bobillot. "They're coming home with us, just in a different way."

President Obama said in a statement, "Today, 28 American families — from Florida to Maine — and five Polish families are heartbroken. May they be comforted, in some small way, in knowing that they have the love and support of their neighbors, the merchant mariner community and the American people."

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