(Caruthersville, MO) The Coast Guard has called off its search for two missing barge workers in the Mississippi River east of Blytheville, Ark.
The men were unloading heavy steel coils when their barge overturned. They were trapped underneath and didn’t survive.
The Coast Guard has been looking for their bodies since Tuesday, but Thursday afternoon announced the search was called off.
One of the missing workers is Juan Nieves of Caruthersville, Mo.
The First Baptist Church there is stepping in to help Nieves’ wife and children, now left without their loved one.
Pam Peeler is Director of Missions at First Baptist Church in Caruthersville.
“When something like this happens, you have a shock. You’re really just not believing it. And then reality kind of sets in,” said Peeler.
The wife and five children of missing barge worker Juan Nieves are members of First Baptist.
Since Juan Nieves was reported missing Tuesday, there were fears he wouldn’t be found alive.
So the church has been actively caring for the spiritual and financial needs of his family.
“He kind of held things together and of course he was the main money earner and everything. So it’s rough and it really affected our church a lot too,” said Pastor Doug Boyd.
The church has set up a special fund for the Nieves family and is asking the community to help.
The church has already used all the money in its benevolence fund to help Cassandra Nieves, her four daughters, and son.
“Destiny is 14, Maria and Maranda will be 13 in a couple of weeks, Juan is 8 and Amiah is 4,” said Pam Peeler.
While Cassandra Nieves stayed close to search and recovery efforts east of Blytheville, the children have been cared for by church members.
Pam Peeler said the tragedy is especially hard on the Nieves children, who refuse to believe their father is gone.
“Yesterday, the three oldest ones jumped up and ran to the back door looking for their dad, because they heard a horn that sounded like his. They cannot accept that he is not coming home,” said Peeler.
You can help the Nieves family by sending a check to the Nieves Family Fund at First Baptist Church, 801 Ward Street, Caruthersville, Missouri 63830.