Memorial scheduled for ETX chiropractor who went missing in Bahamian shark dive

Memorial scheduled for ETX chiropractor who went missing in Bahamian shark dive

POSTED: Thursday, July 17, 2014 - 6:34am

UPDATED: Thursday, July 17, 2014 - 1:39pm

A memorial has been scheduled for an East Texas chiropractor who went missing during a commercial shark diving venture in the vicinity of West End, Bahamas, Sunday night.

John E. Petty, 63, of Longview, will be honored 2:00 p.m., Saturday, July 19, at First Baptist Church in downtown Longview with a reception to follow at the Longview Museum of Fine Arts where Petty's photo exhibit is on display.

Petty was about 20 nautical miles off the coast of the Bahamas when he disappeared earlier this week.

Coast Guard 7th District command center watchstanders were contacted by the captain of the commercial dive vessel Shear Water late Sunday night stating that Petty went shark diving with eight others and did not return.

The Coast Guard immediately launched multiple air and sea assets that searched alongside Royal Bahamas Police Force. Coast Guard crews aboard the following assets who assisted were:

  • Coast Guard Cutter Dolphin, homeported in Miami.
  • Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater C-130 Hercules aircraft.
  • Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater MH-60 Jayhawk rescue helicopter.

Dive gear believed to belong to Petty was found during the extensive search that covered more than 4,600 miles, lasting 64 hours of total search time. 


KETK spoke with two of Petty's closest friends Wednesday and learned he may physically be gone, but his love and legacy will forever be present.

Jerry Russell and Mark Dulweber spent years in the same running club as Petty, Russell says getting the chance to know Petty was a privilege.

"I'll always be glad that John was a friend of mine and I got to be his friend," said Russell. "My life is better off and I'll be a better human being for knowing John Petty."

Dulweber strongly agreed.

"We were blessed by his thoughts, by his presence and his love," said Dulweber. "The time we had spent together was all a real blessing. A hole is truly the definition of what we're feeling, there's an emptiness here."

Russell says he admired Petty's youthful spirit, as well.

"He was the youngest 63-year-old guy you'll ever know in your life," claimed Russell. "He was a constant athlete, he's just left a huge footprint on anyone that's ever known him."

Petty's son-in law released a statement, Wednesday, on behalf of the family thanking the community for the support and with the latest information from the Bahamian Government:

The family would like to thank everyone for the overwhelming support and prayers on behalf of John Petty. The U.S. Coast Guard has ceased its search as of 11:00 a.m., today. After the Bahamian Government studied the items recovered in numerous searches, it has been determined that a shark attack was the cause. A memorial service is being planned and details will be posted later today. Thank you all again.

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My God be with this family and guide them thru these painful hours ahead. I pray that God will wrap his loving arms around this family and comfort them with all your might. Prayer to each and everyone of you for your loss of a wonderful person.

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