Coast Guard suspends search for missing fisherman

Mark Shackleford
Mark Shackleford

Murrells Inlet, SC - MURRELLS INLET, SC (WMBF) - The U.S. Coast Guard says it has suspended its search indefinitely for a missing fisherman this morning about 10 miles southwest of Murrells Inlet.

Coast Guard officials say search-and-rescue coordinators received a distress call at 6:47 p.m. Thursday from a crew member aboard the Lady Di who had been sleeping and discovered the captain, Mark Shackleford, was missing.

After getting the distress call, the Coast Guard launched a rescue helicopter crew, two Coast Guard cutters, and a pair of small rescue boats to try to find Shackleford.

Meanwhile, Shackleford's friends and family say they are hoping that they will receive some answers soon.

Phil Conklin of the Seven Seas Seafood Market says that the fishermen in Murrells Inlet are a tight-knit group. Conklin says Shackleford has been a commercial fisherman for decades, and he's known him for many years.

"He was a hard worker and he knew lots of people around here and everybody knew Mark, but Mark was Mark," said Conklin.

Fisherman Robert Strickland says Shackleford was headed out to sea for grouper season that starts on Saturday.

"Everybody's iced up, leaving out to get set up out there. So a lot of the boats are typically 30 foot to 45 foot boats. Some of them will stay two days. Some of them will stay eight days depending on the weather and how good the catch is," said Strickland.

Wayne Mershon of Kenyon Seafood also adds the incident does serve a reminder to be as careful as possible out on the water.

"We're all proud," he said. "We're tough, but at least in the back of your mind now, you realize that it only takes one slip of the foot and you can be gone."

The Coast Guard hopes anyone with information about the Lady Di or Shackleford will call their command center in Charleston at 843-740-7050.

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