What really happened to the lost crew of the Casie Nicole?
On April 12, 1990, four commercial fishermen prepared to embark on a seven day expedition in the Atlantic. The Captain was 23-year-old Billy Joe Neesmith. The crew included his brother, Nathan, his nephew, Keith Wilkes, and a friend, Franklin Brantley. In the late afternoon, they set off on the Casie Nicole, a snapper boat, owned by a man named Doug Tyson. The boat had recently spent five weeks in dry dock for maintenance. Nathan Neesmith was at the helm:
Nathan then took his brother to the control panel. It was there that they noticed the Casie Nicole was riding unusually deep in the water. They then checked the bow where the other crew members were sleeping. What Nathan saw surprised him:
To make matters worse, the boat’s pumps were inoperable. In order to prevent the boat from sinking, Nathan and his crew had to bail the water out with buckets:
All power on the Casie Nicole was lost. The radio was useless. Nathan and his crew had no choice but to abandon ship:
By sunrise, the life raft was sinking fast. Then, salvation came floating by… it was the hatch cover from the Casie Nicole. The four men tied the raft to the hatch cover and climbed aboard. Then, Nathan saw the hull of the Casie Nicole in the distance:
Without heeding the warnings of his fellow crewman, Nathan swam to the stern of the sunken boat:
As darkness fell, Nathan lost sight of his companions. He spent a long harrowing night clinging to the hull of the Casie Nicole. But the next morning, a freighter passed within three miles of Nathan:
The freighter continued its odd movement for nearly three hours, then disappeared. For two and a half days, Nathan drifted and prayed that the Casie Nicole would stay afloat. Suddenly, a large wood and Styrofoam bait box broke loose from the boat’s deck and popped to the surface:
At 10 AM on April 15, 1990, Nathan Neesmith was finally rescued, twenty miles off the coast of Georgia. He had been adrift without food or water for four days. But despite a large-scale search, the other fishermen were never found by the coast guard. Still, Nathan and his family never gave up hope.
Then, one day Nathan’s sister Oneda received a curious phone call. According to Oneda, the male caller spoke Spanish and seemed unable to understand English:
That same day, an unusual call also came into the home of Doug Tyson, owner of the ill-fated Casie Nicole. Once again, the caller was a man. And according to Tyson, the only English words he knew were Doug’s name and telephone number:
Over the next year, five more calls came in—three to Oneda and two to the Tysons. Finally, on March 6, 1991, Oneda received a call in which the caller spoke a single sentence in English:
After only a brief moment, the connection was lost. There have been no calls since.
What really happened to the lost crewmen of the Casie Nicole? Officially, Billy Joe Neesmith, Keith Wilkes, and Franklin Brantley are presumed dead. Unofficially, there is reason to hope that they may still be alive.