Families of El Faro crew members plead to renew search for ship

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CAPE CORAL, Fla.- Dozens of families desperate for help are spearheading a petition, asking the federal government to resume the search for the El Faro.

The pain of the loss of the cargo ship and its 33 crew members is still unbearable for Claudia Shultz.

Her husband, Steven Shultz, was aboard the ship when it sank in the Bahamas last month during Hurricane Joaquin

“I call his phone often, I send him text messages often, hoping that somehow, someway he’ll be able to read or see them,”said Claudia Shultz. “I smell his pajamas every night for that one last smell of him that’s left, and there’s no more normal. I don’t know what normal is anymore.”

A petition has garnered more than 11,000 signatures. Shultz says 4,000 more signatures would send the letter to the White House, asking to resume the search for the ship and the bodies of the missing crew.

The U.S. Navy is continuing a search for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) but their focus is to locate the voyage data recorder.

Families want to relaunch a more extensive effort to find the vessel, life boats, and the bodies of their loved ones.

“There’s still a boat out there. We don’t know if the lifeboat sunk or if it’s still lost out there with people in it,” said Shultz. “I lost my best friend, the love of my life. Without him, I’m incomplete.”

Some of the families of the El Faro crew members are taking legal action against the ship’s operator. That includes the loved ones of Jeremy Reihm, one of the Lee County men aboard the ship.

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