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October 14, 2009

Lost lobsterman leaves wife, 5 kids in native Honduras

Coast Guard calls off search for missing lobsterman

At the Fishermen's Memorial, whose cenotaph makes 5,368 the number "known to be lost at sea and honored here," an informal prayer service took place in the late afternoon yesterday for newcomer Jaime Ortiz.

The 5,369th fisherman of Gloucester known to be lost at sea and honored in the shadow of the Man at the Wheel statue yesterday was 43 years old, a husband and father of five children in the care of his wife back in Honduras.

Ortiz slipped off the back of the lobstering boat Dominatrix on which he had been the sternman since the summer, and was lost Tuesday afternoon within sight of the shore.

Organized within minutes after Ortiz slipped out of the reach of Dean Mould of Magnolia, his employer and owner of the 39-foot lobster boat, the Coast Guard's marathon search by sea and in the air some 2 to 3 miles beyond the Dog Bar breakwater was called off at 10:10 yesterday morning.

Ortiz death at sea was the third for a Gloucester fisherman this year; the fishing vessel Patriot was lost farther out, on Middle Bank, in the early-morning hours of Jan. 3 with Matteo Russo, the captain, and John Orlando, his mate and father-in-law, aboard.

Mould yesterday recalled the beginning of the teaming with Ortiz.

"He stopped at the boat and asked for a job," said Mould.

"He didn't swim well," said a cousin, Tranquilino Nuñez, who drove from Manhattan for the service with the family members who had settled there with Ortiz before he set off for a chance at the American dream, Gloucester-fishing-style, last summer.

His relatives said Ortiz had heard of Gloucester's reputation as a place where the willing worker could get a fishing job and earn money quickly.

Nuñez said that limitation was typical of Hondurans of the ports, as Ortiz was — they fished better than they swam.

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