A body that washed ashore at a North Carolina wildlife refuge over the weekend was identified Tuesday as the owner of a fishing boat that sank off the New Jersey coast on Nov. 11.
A visitor collecting seashells Saturday afternoon at the north end of Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge in Manteo, N.C., found the body Kenneth Rose Sr., 73, and contacted a park ranger.
Rose was one of three crew members on board the Sea Tractor, when it sank off Cape May, about 200 miles north of the North Carolina refuge.
Also aboard were his 49-year-old son, Kenneth Jr., and a crew member, 55-year-old Larry Forrest. They are presumed dead, but their bodies have not yet been found. The Roses were from Broad Creek, N.C., and Forrest had lived in Atlantic City before moving several months ago to the Villas section of Lower Township, N.J.
A life raft from the Sea Tractor had washed up at the refuge several days before Rose's body was found.
A park law enforcement officer contacted Rose's family for identifying information. Several unique scars and an identifiable gold ring provided the evidence needed for an identification, which was made Tuesday by the local medical examiner.
There is still no word on what caused the 44-foot boat to sink, but it went down in bad weather as the remnants of Tropical Storm Ida were churning the ocean. Seas were topping 20 feet in the search area, with winds gusting to 55 mph when the search was called off nearly a day later.
The Coast Guard did not immediately return a call seeking comment Tuesday.
So far this year, nine commercial fishermen operating out of Cape May have died at sea.
The loss of the Sea Tractor comes eight months after the Lady Mary -- another North Carolina-based boat that operated out of Cape May -- sank in March, killing six of the seven crew members on board.
An ongoing joint Coast Guard-National Transportation Safety Board investigation is trying to determine the cause of that accident.
The boat owner, Royal Smith Sr., who lost two sons and a brother in the disaster, believes the Lady Mary was struck by another vessel that then left the area.