The Mexican Navy on Sunday continued its search for a Baltimore sailor who was last heard from more than two weeks ago while almost 300 nautical miles off the country’s Pacific Coast.
In a statement, Jacqueline Lawson, Donald Lawson’s wife, said the Mexican Navy Rescue Coordination Center told her after repeated searches it had not found the lone life raft of her husband’s 60-foot trimaran racing yacht Defiant. She said she believes her husband used the lifeboat and is still out there.
“My family and I remain hopeful and optimistic that he will be found alive,” said Jacqueline Lawson, who thanked people for their support and prayers.
Meanwhile, Petty Officer Edward Wargo, public affairs specialist for the U.S. Coast Guard, confirmed the service on Friday suspended its search efforts.
Wargo said the military made the decision because of resources as well as the belief of survivability.
“We did call off our search efforts. But we are confident in Mexico’s ability to conduct search operations, as well as request assistance from the Coast Guard, if needed,” Wargo said. “It’s never an easy decision to make.”
On July 5, Donald Lawson, 41, a professional sailor who grew up in Woodlawn, left Acapulco, Mexico, after the Defiant underwent repairs. He was heading for the Panama Canal en route to Baltimore.
His last known position was detected July 13. The Mexican Navy later reported it had located the boat, which had capsized, but did not find him.
Donald Lawson and Jacqueline Lawson founded the Dark Seas Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting African American sailors in a sport that’s dominated by white men. He serves as the chairman of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee for U.S. Sailing.
Donald Lawson was tentatively planning to attempt a world record in the fall by sailing around the world in 74 days. He was looking to become the first American to single-handedly achieve that record with a trimaran without stopping.
The Defiant is an ORMA 60, which is a class of some of the fastest racing boats ever built.