The Coast Guard has suspended the search for an East Texas chiropractor who is believed to have been the victim of a shark in the Bahamas, his family said on Wednesday.
John E. Petty, 63, from Longview, was last seen 20 nautical miles northwest of Grand Bahama island on Sunday. He had been on a commercial shark dive with the vessel "Shear Water," out of Lake Park, Florida, according to the Coast Guard. Petty was with eight others but is the only one who didn't return to the ship. The Coast Guard immediately launched "multiple sea and air assets" that worked with Bahamas police. Dive gear believed to belong to Petty, an advanced open-water diver, was found during a search that covered more than 4,600 miles, the Coast Guard said.
Petty's son-in law released a statement saying in part, "The family would like to thank everyone for the overwhelming support and prayers on behalf of John Petty ... After the Bahamian Government studied the items recovered in numerous searches, it has been determined that a shark attack was the cause. A memorial service is being planned and details will be posted later today. Thank you all again."
Despite the family's statement, the Coast Guard said they could not absolutely confirm that Petty was killed by a shark because they had not found his body.
— Hasani Gittens
First published July 16 2014, 2:37 PM