UPDATE – First responders recently recovered the body of a Mechanicsville boater who went missing last December on the Eastern Shore.
At approximately 7:04 p.m. on December 29, Southern Maryland first responders were alerted that a person who went out on the water earlier today had not yet returned and may be in danger. After over an hour of searching, the boat that Ernest “Ernie” Sigmon III had taken out on a lone fishing trip was found in Calvert County waters, unoccupied.
What ensued was an unmatched community effort from Southern Maryland and across the state. Family members, friends, and even random strangers went out in frigid temperatures to search for Sigmon in a harsh winter.
Checking every corner of the surrounding areas, the search to #BringErnieHome was on. The U.S. Coast Guard found themselves issuing warnings to boaters around the state to not search when storms made the water rough.
A Facebook group called “Bring Ernie Home” quickly racked up thousands of followers who shared that common goal.
When all hope had seemed lost, something unimaginable happened.
On June 20, 2022, at approximately 11 a.m., first responders from the Maryland Natural Resources Police, Nick District Volunteer Fire Company, Church Creek Volunteer Fire Company, and the U.S. Coast Guard were called to a reported person in the water near a red buoy in the Choptank River.
The first responding units would make contact with a deceased male in the waters near the Cook Point Sanctuary.
After the family was notified, police identified the body as that of the 44-year-old Sigmon.
“Ernie is so much more than a father, son, brother, uncle, nephew, cousin, friend, boss, mentor; he was the one who supported so many of us to be the best version of ourselves. Just when our hope and patience were waning, God answered our prayers to bring Ernie home,” a family member of Sigmon said in a social media post.
“Our entire family is so thankful for your ideas and knowledge which helped us make great strides. We are thankful for your posts, in general, which helped us find the positives to push forward. Thank you all for your thoughts, prayers, and supporting efforts in bringing Ernie home. We will never be able to fully show our gratitude to each and every one of you that helped bring Ernie home.”
The investigation is still ongoing.
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UPDATE: The family of Ernie Sigmon posted the following update on social media on June 20, notifying the public that he had been located.
The following message was posted in a Facebook group created called “Bring Ernie Home,” which has since amassed a large following. The message comes from Ernest Sigmon Jr.:
“After 173 days of this unimaginable tragedy, God has brought Ernie home to us. Our hope, faith, and strength has never been so extensively tested.
Each and every day, we feel such a tremendous loss deep in our hearts. Ernie is so much more than a father, son, brother, uncle, nephew, cousin, friend, boss, mentor; he was the one who supported so many of us to be the best version of our selves.
Just when our hope and patience were waning, God answered our prayers to bring Ernie home. Our entire family is so thankful for your ideas and knowledge which helped us make great strides.
We are thankful for your posts, in general, which helped us find the positives to push forward. Thank you all for your thoughts, prayers, and supporting efforts in bringing Ernie home.
We will never be able to fully show our gratitude to each and every one of you that helped bring Ernie home.
Thank you for the support.”
SOLOMONS, Md. — After the tragic news broke on December 29 that a water rescue attempt in the Chesapeake Bay by local first responders was transforming into a water recovery mission, Southern Maryland once again showed its strength in unity.
Through social media, putting up flyers in businesses, extensive statewide news coverage, and in some cases, word-of-mouth, the search for Ernie Sigmon was on. With his family and friends leading the charge, the community is determined to leave no piece of shoreline unchecked.
Through one of the worst winter storms that Southern Maryland has faced in years, Ernie’s family continued to search.
On January 6, the Sigmon search squad took a moment to reflect on their efforts and host a brief prayer vigil on Solomons Island.
“We just want to bring him home,” Ann Boelke, Ernie’s aunt said at the vigil under the Solomons Island gazebo. “We want more resources, we want people to come out, and if you have a minute just go walk one of the shorelines. Let us know where you are at and we will bring people to you… There is nothing that is off-limits at this point.”
Many community members have continued to press elected officials and state agencies for additional support in the search. From the U.S. Coast Guard to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police(MDNRP), the issue has even brought in voluntary support from the Eastern Shore to help look.
MDNRP has indicated that they have used everything from sonar equipment and boat crews to aircraft searches. However, it is no secret that unsafe weather conditions have been an enemy at times to those looking.
“We’d like to thank everybody that’s been out here helping us search. We’d also like to thank the boat owners and everybody who has been walking the shores that’s searching for Ernie,” Ray Boelke, Ernie’s uncle, told TheBayNet.com. “He’s a big part of our heart.”
The family still plans to continue searching, especially after discovering what looks to be one of Ernie’s planer boards south of where his trolling boat was located. They are encouraging everyone to help if they can.
“If it was your loved one, look next to your loved one. Look at your loved one…” Ernie’s aunt said. “They see you, you get to see them. We just want ours back.”
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