EC-SAR was honored by the St. Petersburg Police Department Thursday for its role in the search and recovery of 5-year-old Phoebe Jonchuck in January.
Police Chief Anthony Holloway, an Eckerd alumna, presented a Certificate of Appreciation to members of the Eckerd College Search and Rescue team during the City Council meeting. The council and the audience gave the team a standing ovation.
Mayor Rick Kriseman praised the team and Eckerd for its hard work and dedication. “You all do outstanding work; you never say no,” the mayor said.
The all-volunteer team of students received an outpouring of public sympathy and support for its role in the search for Phoebe, whose father has been charged with murder for throwing her from a bridge leading to the Sunshine Skyway. It was a very trying and emotional experience
“This kind of case is difficult for anyone,” team member Alice Elliott ‘15 told The Tampa Tribune. “We felt like we did the best we could.”
“Although this case was extremely tragic and will probably stay with us for quite some time and some for a lifetime we stand ready to answer the call for any assistance,” Ryan Dilkey, assistant director of the Waterfront for EC-SAR, told the Council.
The police officers who worked the tragic case recommended the certificate of appreciation. “This volunteer group went out on a particularly difficult mission and tried to assist the police department, and this was an especially difficult case,” police spokeswoman Yolanda Fernandez told the Tampa Bay Times.
EC-SAR was founded in 1971 and provides free maritime search and rescue to the Tampa Bay boating community, responding to more than 600 calls a year.