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Family of woman who died after boat sank near Florence speaks out

By Bridget Chavez

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    FLORENCE, Oregon (KPTV) — The U.S. Coast Guard said a woman has died and a man is missing after their boat sank off the coast of Florence on March 26.

The Lane County Sheriff’s Office said the man, Mike Morgan, was the captain. The 68-year-old is still missing but the Coast Guard called off the search after 24 hours of searching. The Coast Guard was able to recover the body of Billie Jo Hooton, who was a crew member on the boat.

The sheriff’s office has not officially identified her, but her family reached out to FOX 12 to honor her memory.

“She did everything, she would drop anything to do anything for anybody else,” Brandi Christner, her sister said. Hooton was close with her nephew, Jeremiah Gower.

“She was very loving and very caring,” he said.

The family said their world came to a halt when they learned she had died.

“That whole day we were all just waiting for that little green light on Facebook to pop up because when it did she would always say I’m coming home, I’ll be at the docks,” Christner said.

Rescuers searched the area for more than 24 hours over a 232 square-mile area.

“I am more than grateful and more than appreciative to any and every person that assisted in that search and helped bring my aunt home,” Gower said.

He and his aunt had a special bond and both loved fishing.

“For the first two, three years of my life, my mother was working and she carried me around on her hip, she’d babysit me and people thought I was her kid, like she just had the biggest heart and she would do anything for anybody,” he said.

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