Search Continues for Missing Oysterman

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The search for a missing oysterman continues in the Apalachicola Bay.

A wooden oyster boat sank Monday morning after taking on too much water.

A witness jumped in and helped save the woman, but search crews are still looking for 21-year-old Brandon Hicks.

An entire community praying for his rescue, some even joining in the search to find a beloved oysterman.

Family friend Susan Jones says, "His name was Brandon. Brandon Hicks, but everyone knew him as Bruno in our whole community."

Brandon Hicks has been an oysterman since he was 8 years old.

Jones adds, "He always had a smile on his face, he was out to help everybody, he'd give you the last dollar out of his pocket if you needed it."

Monday morning, Hicks and friend 18-year-old Billie "Misty" Murray were on their way to St. George Island in rough seas.

Their wooden vessel filled with water and began to sink.

A witness jumped in and rescued Murray.

But the last time anyone saw Hicks, he was struggling to tread water.
Jones points out, "He was right out here on this boat, you can see the cones in the water. He was clung to them this morning and whenever they turned back and looked, he was gone and they haven't seen him since."

Although he's spent most of his life on the water, close friends say Hicks did not know how to swim.

Hicks' mother is hoping she won't lose a second child to drowning.

Jones says, "She also had a little baby years ago that fell in the ditch and drowned it. He was 23 months old. She's about to have a nervous breakdown, standing on this bridge waiting for her kid to come out of this water."

Franklin County Sheriff's officials and Fish and Wildlife officers say they're prepared to look for Hicks throughout the night.

Several oystermen are also using their own boats to help the first responders search for Hicks.

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