Australian media reported Sunday that an orange-yellow speck — possibly a life raft — spotted in one of roughly 56,000 satellite photos of the Tasman Sea is injecting fresh hope into the search for a missing Lafayette teenager and her fellow crew members who vanished along with the antique yacht they were sailing from New Zealand to Australia more than 70 days ago.
Eighteen-year-old Danielle Wright of Lafayette was one of six Americans and a Briton aboard the Nina when it disappeared in stormy weather on June 4. According to one media account, the yacht’s last contact on that day was a call to a New Zealand meteorologist: “The weather’s turned nasty, how do we get away from it?”
The Nina had an orange life raft.
Wright’s parents, Ricky and Robin Wright, haven’t given up hope that their daughter will be found alive with the crew, although numerous government and private searches for the missing vessel have so far proved futile. The couple teamed with Texas Equusearch to ramp up the effort to locate their daughter and her companions.
According to information released last week by the family, “New drift models have narrowed the enormous area to about 300,000 sq. miles where the Nina is believed to have drifted.” The Wrights also point to the recent rescue after more than 90 days adrift at sea of an Arizona family as reason to believe Danielle is still alive:
The substantial difference in these two stories is the fact that Nina is drifting in an area where there are no boats passing or planes flying over, and Nina is caught in very strong currents that are holding her captive without a motor or sail/wind power to escape them. If we don’t come to their rescue, it could take several additional months before Nina to drift back to New Zealand or Australian shores. We are still hopeful that our US government will decide to initiate a new search with the permission of the New Zealand Coast Guard.
The quest to bring their daughter home, however, is costing the families of the missing crew members a fortune. Donations to aid the search can be made at all area locations of Home Bank. The account number is 2059321602 and checks should be made payable to Robin Wright. Donations are also being accepted at the Wrights’ business, Sunbelt Business Brokers at 2701 Johnston Street and through an account set up at the Community Foundation of Acadiana.