The following is a letter to the Ocracoke Community sent to the Ocracoke Observer regarding a boating accident Oct. 9 off Portsmouth Island involving two men and a woman and from which the woman is still missing. See follow-up story after the letter.
This is a letter of gratitude to the agencies and the people of Ocracoke Island, Hyde County and Carteret County. My son, John Pierson, his friend, Jason Quickle, and Jason’s girlfriend, Savannah Grant, were involved in a boating accident off Portsmouth Island on Oct. 9, 2021. Multiple local, state, and federal agencies responded. This response was incredible not only in the area covered but the number of assets deployed.
I would first like to thank Lt. Amanda Faulkner of the US Coast Guard, North Carolina Sector. She, along with other staff stayed in constant communication. The assets and manpower deployed were extensive and comprehensive. My appreciation and gratitude to the U.S. Coast Guard is immeasurable.
Next are Captain Ernie Doshier and Deputy Sheriff Blackburn Warner. I was unaware of their efforts in this rescue until after the fact. They very bravely took Captain Doshier’s boat into the inlet after hearing the 911 call and actually arrived 20 minutes before the Coast Guard. I thank them both for risking their lives in this rescue attempt. Again, my gratitude is beyond expressing.
The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission for its assistance. I wish I could remember all of their names. I took frantic notes but unfortunately not very detailed regarding names. I may have confused this agency with the NPS and DNR as well. Regardless, I wish to express my gratitude to all and apologize if I have misnamed any agency.
The Good Samaritan on the Cape Lookout National Seashore who gave my son a blanket, Gatorade, water and a ride to the park service. I wish that I could meet and personally thank him for his kindness.
The Carteret Hospital in Morehead City. My son received the best of care and was discharged after two days. Many thanks to the entire staff.
Detective Greg Mason of the Carteret County Sheriff’s Office for his thorough investigative interview of this incident. He was understanding and professional.
Captain Donald Austin who donated his boat and time after hearing reports of a possible sighting of my son’s dog on Portsmouth Island. Once again, a generous and kind person for which I am grateful.
Lastly, I wish to thank the people of Ocracoke Island. The outpouring of concern and general helpfulness was overwhelming. I will be forever grateful.
Mary Margaret Pierson
Fairmont, West Virginia
The following is a follow up to a prior story about Savannah Grant’s disappearance. It has been clarified to include the two types of boats they were in — a canoe and a john boat.
By Connie Leinbach
Local authorities in late October suspended the search for Savannah Grant, 27, of Fairmont, West Virginia, who went missing Oct. 9 following a boating accident off Portsmouth Island during stormy weather.
Grant was with Jason Quickle, her boyfriend, of Fairmont, West Virginia, and John Pierson, of Lost Creek, West Virginia. The three, including Pierson’s dog, Poseidon, had been camping on Portsmouth Island and left that day (Oct. 9) in a canoe and john boat during a coastal storm to return to Ocracoke.
The next morning, the U.S. Coast Guard said they had rescued Quickle alongside a green canoe approximately 2.8 miles offshore of Drum Inlet.
Quickle was hoisted into the aircraft and transported to Carteret Hospital in Morehead City, Carteret County, and released two days later.
Pierson, who made the 911 call, was found ashore on Great Island on the Cape Lookout National Seashore by a good Samaritan, at which point he reported he had last seen Grant in the early morning hours of Sunday, the Coast Guard said. Pierson, too, was treated in Carteret Hospital and release, his mother, Mary, said in an interview.
Grant and Poseidon remained missing.
North Carolina Wildlife Resources handled the boating incident portion of the accident, said Tyler Engle, master officer with North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, who said that at about the time the group put into the water to leave Portsmouth was when they capsized.
Press releases from the U.S. Coast Guard said the 911 call came in at 4:15 p.m.
Engle said they interviewed all of the parties involved and that the boating incident side of the investigation is closed. Neither the john boat nor the canoe was found, he said.
Engle interviewed both men and said there were no inconsistencies in their reports and no reason to suspect foul play.
Jason Wank, chief detective of the Carteret County Sheriff Department, said in an interview that the case is now considered a “missing person.”
“The other agencies have exhausted their efforts and have been unable to locate Ms. Grant,” he said, adding that the “accusations and rumors hold no weight.”
He said his investigation determined no evidence to suspect foul play and that his office sent out missing person flyers to all law enforcement agencies in the state.
“It’s just so unfortunate,” he said. “It’s a tragic situation and I understand (the family’s) frustration. Our hearts go out to them.”
James Weekley, Grant’s uncle, and two others, had arrived on Ocracoke on Oct. 12 to do what they could to aid in the search.
The three returned to their Grafton, West Virginia, homes on Oct. 25 but continue to try to find answers with the aid of a private investigator in Nags Head, Weekley said from his home.
“I lose sleep over it,” he said. “I think about it every day.”