Mar 22, 2014 12:52 PM by Kris Wartelle
While the nation watches the frantic search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, one local family sees a sad irony in the story.
Lafayette residents Robin and Ricky Wright, parents of University of Louisiana at Lafayette student Danielle Wright, missing at sea, say they are sickened by what they see on television and are now taking action. They have contacted representatives for U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-Metairie, and U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette.
The Nina, a 70-foot schooner, disappeared more than eight months ago after a storm as the crew attempted to cross the Tasman Sea from New Zealand to Australia.
On Friday afternoon, a spokesman for Vitter said the senator reached out this week to the State Department for help. He said Vitter also relayed the Wrights' message asking for resources already involved in the missing aircraft search, to be used to help to locate the Nina.
"They (the State Department) are going to keep us informed," Vitter spokesman Luke Bolar said. "So far, they have not given us much new information. But we did relay (the request for help in light of the airplane search) to the State Department and they acknowledged that. They responded an hour ago that they will keep in touch with us, but there is no new information."
The Wrights said they believe search teams will be flying over the same area where the Nina could be, en route to search for the missing plane.
"It makes me sick to watch all this effort on this plane when Australia and the U.S. refused to help," said Ricky Wright. "New Zealand was willing to help out but stopped. I know our search was a drop in the bucket for what is happening now."
The Wrights said two other families of the missing crew members are also asking lawmakers in each of their states to urge the U.S. government to help look for the Nina.
They said so far, crew mate Evi Nemeth's son, Lazlo, has been in contact with Colorado state lawmakers and the twin sister of Capt. David Dyche, Cheri Martinez, has done the same with legislators in Tennessee.
Even though the search areas are both off the coast of Australia, they are thousands of miles apart. Still, it is a request the Wrights think is reasonable given the circumstances.
"We think it's a long shot that the Nina could have drifted all the way over to the west side of Australia given the strong Tasman currents," Robin Wright said in an email to The Daily Advertiser. "But we've come to realize that anything is possible. The families are going to start sending messages to our elected officials to ask again for satellite image help or that they look for Nina while their rescue pilots and equipment are flying over that area."
In an email to representatives for Vitter and Boustany, Ricky Wright said, "My request is; while the USA is expending millions of dollars in resources to search for the missing plane, Flight MH 370, Can our government send resources to our locations of interest for S/V Nina?
"I would like the USA to fly over the remote reefs and atolls. This would only take a day or two."
The Wrights continue to hold out hope for their daughter and the other crew members, pointing out examples of people who have survived long periods lost at sea. They said they refuse to give up when so far they have no evidence that the Nina sank.
Along with Danielle Wright, aboard the ship were Dyche, his wife Rosemary and their son David, Kyle Jackson, 27, Matthew Wootton, 35, and Evi Nemeth, 73, a retired University of Colorado computer science professor.