CURRITUCK COUNTY, N.C. (WAVY) - Family, friends and volunteers have not given up on finding a missing boater in Currituck County. They're looking for 26 year old, Ricky Ballance.
According to the Coast Guard and the Currituck County Sheriff's Office, Ballance was last seen heading out on Coinjock Bay on Sunday afternoon. His wife, Jennifer Ballance, tells WAVY.com he was baiting ducks for duck hunting. Jennifer said he was canoeing, something he does regularly. The experienced boater hasn't been seen since. Sgt. Jeff Walker, from the Sheriff's Office, said his canoe and waders were discovered near a bridge off Bells Island Road.
"He's gonna come back. He's gotta come back today. This needs to be our Christmas miracle," said Jennifer while searching for her husband on foot on Tuesday.
"I believe he's out in these woods or in the marshes and he's going to come back," said Jennifer.
While Jennifer and her family search on the ground, volunteers are working out of the Bells Island Community Center and Currituck Sports on Caratoke Highway.
"This has been the most volunteers I've seen in probably seven of my searches in the last fifteen years," said Sgt. Walker.
Some of the volunteers are family and friends. Others don't know the Ballance family, but they want to help.
"They're basically coming out here on their own time," said Walker. "Taking their own boats and spending hours on end in the water along with us."
The Coast Guard ended their search for Ricky on Monday. Walker says, because of the amount of time that has passed, the Sherrif's Office is treating the search as a recovery mission now. He added they haven't given up on finding him safely.
"We're not going to give up hope, just like the family," said Walker.
Jennifer says her family is feeling the support, love and prayers from all over.
"We've got people from Greenville and from everywhere. All coming and helping us and praying all the way across the country. We're very hopeful," said Jennifer.
Walker says the search was suspended around 4:30 on Tuesday because it got too dark out. He says they will begin searching again as soon as it's light out on Wednesday morning.
If you would like to volunteer in the search for Ricky Ballance, and you have a boat and water experience, the Sheriff's Office is asking you to get to get in touch with them before you head out. You can call 252-453-8204 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Wednesday.
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