Family continues searching for missing boaters presumed dead

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A family refuses to stop searching for the two men lost after a tugboat sank near Mud Island.

The Coast Guard has called off their search, but the family has not.

People did everything they could, using binoculars, searching in the woods, and calling out, searching for two men lost in the river.

Captain 37-year-old Keith Pigram and his 19-year-old stepson Anquavious Newson were working Friday when their tugboat sank in the Mississippi River near Mud Island.

Now, hope is the only thing driving the family.

"I really truly feel in my heart that my son is out here somewhere holding on," said Keith's mother Queen Rose.

After 24 hours and 324 miles of river covered, the Coast Guard suspended the search Saturday afternoon, leaving behind an arrow, pointing to the water and the words, "Tow Boat," signifying where investigators believe the boat rests at the bottom of the river.

The Coast Guard said a variety of factors go into how long a search will go, including the amount of time the person is missing, the weather, and what the missing person was wearing.

Still, family members said more could have been done.

"I know the chances are against us, but anything could have happened, that they could have got out of the boat, they could be around the banks," said Anquavious' mother Kimberly.

Keith's mother says she understands, but the news was devastating.

"I asked them and I begged them please don't give up on my son," Rose said. "Please don't give up on him, because he didn't give up, he loved his job."

"It's sad because they could have at least kept looking until the sun went down for us," said Keith's cousin Frank Gotti. "But I guess we have to look on our own."

Gotti, a rapper and activist, helped organize a search party on land.

"At best, I'm hoping they're alive," Gotti said. "At worst, I just hope we find them dead or alive so our family can be at peace."

With the bleak circumstances, the family said it was uplifting to see so many supporters willing to drop everything and help.

"We stopped what we're doing today to get out here to give the family as much support as we can," said Rodney Harper, a friend of Keith's.

"It showed that he was loved and cared for," Rose said.

Loved ones are still hoping for a miracle.

"Just bring them home Lord," Rose said. "They have family they have people that love and care for them. We're not giving up on them. We're not giving up."

"I feel like they didn't give us what we need, and we're out here doing it on our own. Keith and Quentavious' family have been out here since Friday," said one person.

Family members say the men's loved ones are still hoping for a miracle and are thanking everyone who has come out over the weekend to help in their search, as well as show support.

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