06/20/07 — Search called off for missing man

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Search called off for missing man

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on June 20, 2007 1:46 PM

A Wayne County family is in mourning today after U.S. Coast Guard officials called off the search for a man who disappeared while on vacation.

Brent Smith, 24, of Goldsboro, was reported missing from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship bound for Puerto Rico Monday.

Petty Officer Barry Pena said the Coast Guard was notified Monday at 12:49 p.m. that one of the ship's 4,141 passengers had disappeared.

Within 15 minutes of that call, a C-130 and low-range helicopter were in the air over the ocean between Miami and the Bahamas.

"We were basically searching from about 1 p.m. Monday until late Monday night," Pena said. "We resumed our search first thing yesterday."

But with no sign of the man, the search was ended Tuesday at 6:11 p.m.

Smith was last seen resting on a balcony outside his room by his brother and a friend around 1:45 a.m.

A spokesman for Royal Caribbean said the FBI and Bahamian Maritime Author-ity have also been alerted.

Smith was a project engineer at T.A. Loving Co., where his father, Kenneth, serves as a vice president.

Sam Hunter, president of the Goldsboro company, confirmed this morning that Smith and his father worked there.

He added that the company is saddened by the loss.

"They're great employees. (Brent's) father is one of our top people, very active in the county school system with his children," Hunter said. "It's a terrible thing."

-- The Associated Press and News-Argus staff writer's Ken Fine and Phyllis Moore contributed to this report.