Families of 3 SWFL men on board missing ship struggle to remain positive

Author: andrew scheinthal & carolyn brewster
Published: Updated:

FORT MYERS, Fla.- The Coast Guard continues to search for the more than 30 crew members, including three men from Southwest Florida, on board a U.S. cargo ship that sank during a hurricane off the coast of the Bahamas.

Family and friends of 51-year-old Steven Shultz of Cape Coral, Keith Griffin of Fort Myers, and 46-year-old Jeremy Riehm from Bokeelia are distraught, hoping their loved ones can be found.

Family members say they were told about the debris found and the Coast Guard’s conclusion about El Faro’s sinking via a conference call.

“There’s one more boat out there, one more surviving boat. So we have not given up hope yet, we’re hoping they find him,” said Crystal Shultz, Steven Shultz’s stepmother.

She and Steven’s wife, Claudia, say the 51-year-old was in the Navy for 20 years.

“He was the best husband and father, he just doted on his family,” said Claudia Shultz. “He was a very wonderful guy, he is. We’re not giving up hope.”

She says the Coast Guard told her there were two life rafts on the El Faro, each can carry more than 40 crew members. While one raft was found empty, the other one is still out there.

“Why would a captain go out into a storm like that?” said Shultz. “I think they should have told them to either stay in Jacksonville or dock in Miami.”

The families of the crew members are headed to Jacksonville Monday night where the Coast Guard plans to have a meeting to address questions.

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