Family members and friends of a woman who disappeared from a yacht moored off the US Virgin Islands on March 8 are demanding assurances from local police that they are doing everything possible to find her.
Sarm Heslop, 41, a former flight attendant from Southampton, was reported missing by her American boyfriend, Ryan Bane.
The couple returned to the 47-foot catamaran, Siren Song, after going to a restaurant in St John on March 7. Bane told police that he noticed that she was missing at 2 a.m. the next day and that he feared she had fallen off the boat.
Heslop’s friends and family have been pleading with the police to search the boat. Andrew Baldwin, who has been friends for 25 years, said: “The last place it was seen should be the first place they would look, but as far as we know, the ship has not been registered.”
Baldwin said her disappearance was misplaced as “she is the type of friend who is in regular contact.”
He said: “Sarm and I had talked about Ryan but I had never met him. She was very happy. She had just left at the end of January to be with him. I have no reason to believe that there was a problem there.
“We know that Sarm and Ryan were seen at a restaurant that night and there are reports that they returned to the ship at 10 pm and then Sarm was not seen at 2 am. We understand that jurisdictions are different, but your friends and family are desperate for verified information about what happened. “
Baldwin, who works for a cruise company, said Heslop was an experienced sailor. “Sarm knows the ships,” he said. “He sailed across the Atlantic. I don’t understand how someone could fall out of that boat in that situation. “
Her family said: “We are shocked and distressed by Sarm’s disappearance. We would like to be reassured that the Virgin Islands authorities are doing everything possible to find her and that the investigation into the disappearance of our beautiful and beloved daughter includes an exhaustive search of the ship at the tip of their fingers. “
Virgin Islands police have reached out for comment. Monday they asked the islanders for help trying to find Heslop, but they have yet to confirm if the ship has been searched.
The family statement added: “Our daughter is a citizen of the UK and we ask for all the support the UK authorities have to offer. Our thanks to the local people of St John, who continue to search for Sarm. We will never stop searching for Sarm and we still hope to find her safe. “
Baldwin said Heslop’s parents were considering flying to the Virgin Islands, despite the pandemic’s restrictions, in hopes of getting more responses from police. “It’s something the family is actively considering … nothing is confirmed,” he said. “The family has had some conversations with the police. The police have assured that an investigation is being carried out, but not many details have been revealed. “
Bane’s attorneys issued a statement saying: “Mr. Bane’s only hope is that they find Sarm safe and sound. Your thoughts and prayers are with Sarm and his family during this difficult time. Mr. Bane has spent countless hours searching for Sarm and will continue to do so. Ryan is devastated by Sarm’s disappearance. “
It is understood that Bane turned over Heslop’s belongings, including his phone and passport, to the police.
Baldwin said: “His phone, his passport, his wallet were left on that ship. She wouldn’t leave everything behind and just walk away, it’s not in her character. “
Heslop’s friends have created a missing person appeal on Facebook.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism