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BALTIMORE — The search for two missing North Carolina fishermen has been suspended, and a relative said Thursday that she fears they are the latest in a string of family members to be lost on the water.
Julia Respass, 77, said her 80-year-old brother, Walter Tate, had cheated death once before in the wintry Atlantic, surviving for more than two days in a life raft with other crew members after their boat sank in 1992. But Respass said she wasn't confident he would be rescued again after hearing a third crew member reported that her brother and nephew, Steven Tate, were in the ship's pilot house when the vessel was struck by a large wave.
"We're losing hope, they didn't have their survival suits on," Respass said. "And then, even if they got out of the pilot house, they could have never survived too long in the water."
The third crew member was not wearing any protective gear when he was pulled from the open ocean, video released by the Coast Guard showed. The Coast Guard said a helicopter search resumed Thursday morning for the missing pair. Respass identified the third crew member as Patrick Small.
Respass said her family has had to deal with a number of fishing deaths over the years.
Two other nephews were lost in 1987 while fishing off the coast of Maryland, another brother died while crabbing in North Carolina, and her grandfather and uncle died in the 1920s in a boating accident.
"Their livelihood has been on the water," Respass said. "It's a dangerous job, but it was a job."
After Walter Tate was pulled from the Atlantic in January 1992, he told The Associated Press, "You don't appreciate life so much until you've about lost it."
He was the skipper at the time of the 87-foot Lois Joyce, which sank about 70 miles southeast of Montauk, N.Y., after it was damaged by a 10-foot swell. Tate and four others spent more than two days in a cramped life raft before they were spotted about 44 miles from where their fishing boat sank.
The Coast Guard said Thursday that it had searched over 560 square miles of the Atlantic off the coast of Assateague Island before suspending the search about 1 p.m.
MORE ON WEATHER.COM: Winter Storm Saturn
A state police cruiser parks along Winthrop Shore Drive just after high tide as side streets were flooded during a storm that left as much as a foot of snow in some areas, March 8, 2013. (Darren McCollester/Getty Images)