Days after a 44-year-old Southern Maryland man disappeared from his boat on the Chesapeake Bay, people on both shores are still searching for him along the water.
Ernie Sigmon’s 25-foot center console was found running in circles in Calvert County, Md. on Wednesday evening, hours after he went out fishing.
Police and emergency crews responded to the area off Plum Point after 6 p.m. The Calvert County Sheriff’s Office Special Operations team happened to be on the water when the call came out. They located the boat just off Dares Beach, but its operator was nowhere to be found. The center console had fishing gear aboard that had been used, and according to North Beach Volunteer Fire Department Chief Chris Mills, “the boat was found upright and everything was in good working order.”
Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) say Sigmon went out fishing at 1 p.m. from his waterfront home in Mechanicsville and his girlfriend last heard from him two hours later. He hadn’t returned by the evening.
Mills tells Bay Bulletin the water temperature Wednesday night into Thursday was 44 degrees.
The search is taking place on the Bay from Deale to the mouth of the Potomac River. Among the crews out searching for the 44-year-old man, the Charles County Volunteer Fire and EMS and the U.S. Coast Guard helped along with North Beach, Avalon Shores, and Tilghman Island VFD. Countless volunteers have been walking beaches and searching on their personal vessels, on both the Calvert County side and the Eastern Shore side.
Community members launched a Facebook page, “SOMD Search Parties,” for volunteers to coordinate their individual search efforts, and as of Jan. 1, the page had nearly 7,000 members.
Sigmon, who has two children ages 20 and 22, “was a waterman through and through,” according to a family statement shared with Bay Bulletin. The family says his 25-foot Sportsman was brand new, and he had aspirations of offshore fishing. “He often spent his weekends and even some weekdays fishing and was always inviting people to go out with him. He loves teaching his children Bella and Ernie to teach them the fundamentals of being a waterman,” the family says. He also loved to take out his kayaks and jet skis in the summer months.
NRP says the investigation is ongoing. Bay Bulletin will continue to monitor any developments in the search.
-Meg Walburn Viviano