Missing man’s cell phone found by tourist in water off Public Beach
Police are concentrating the search for missing man Nathan Clarke at sea following the recovery of his cell phone in the water off Seven Mile Beach.
Speaking at a press briefing Thursday morning, Detective Superintendent Marlon Bodden said a cruise ship passenger found the phone while snorkelling in 10 feet of water about 150 feet in front of Calico Jack’s Seven Mile Beach’s Public Beach around 12.30pm Wednesday.
Mr. Bodden said the tourist spotted “something shining in the water, on the seabed… He retrieved it and decided to keep it as a keepsake.”
Later in the afternoon, when the man mentioned the phone to a member of staff in a store, he was advised that police were still looking for the missing man’s cell phone. The tourist then contacted police who collected the phone around 4.30pm. Police confirmed later that the phone was the black Samsung phone 31-year-old Mr. Clarke had been carrying on him when he was last seen by his girlfriend Lisa Beck and friends at the water’s edge by Calico Jack’s on Saturday night, 25 February.
Police have contacted all the cruise ships that have visited Grand Cayman since Mr. Clarke’s disappearance to ascertain whether any other passengers had picked up or seen other property belonging to the missing man.
By early Thursday afternoon, no other sign of the Cayman Prep primary school teaching assistant had been found. His black Fossil wallet is still missing. He was wearing beige Quicksilver broad shorts and was possibly carrying his keys. He may also have been wearing black Quicksilver flip flops with a red square logo.
Mr. Bodden said the phone was found in an area that had been searched earlier, but it was likely it had been submerged in sand due to tidal changes and hidden from sight.
“We were very fortunate this individual was very keen and observant and saw this… Hence, we are in a position to be able to say we have found at least one item that can somewhat help us to try to find out what has actually happened,” said Mr. Bodden, who is supervising the investigation in Mr. Clarke’s disappearance.
Police also clarified that information given by a police officer earlier this week that a signal, or a ping, from the phone was picked up by a cell phone tower as late as 1am Monday was not correct. Mr. Bodden said the last activity from the phone was an outgoing two-minute call made at 8.07pm Saturday, before Mr. Clarke disappeared. The phone’s telecommunication provider also confirmed that calls had been made to the phone later, but none connected, he said. Dozens of divers and snorkellers, along with dive operators and staff, converged on Public Beach Thursday morning to volunteer for the sea search, which continued throughout the day.
Other volunteers who showed up at Public Beach Thursday, but who were not divers or snorkellers, continued to help by distributing leaflets and flyers of the missing man. The latest missing person posters contain new contact numbers and information on a cash reward. “As time goes on, we have to be very realistic that we are growing even more concerned for Nathan’s welfare, but we will not give up and we will focus our searches continually in the water area,” Mr. Bodden said.
Police said there was no evidence of criminal activity involved in the case. Mr. Bodden and Philip Beck, father of Lisa Beck, dismissed rumours that the police did not have a good relationship with the Beck and Clarke families. Mr. Bodden said police were continually keeping both families up to date on the search and were working closely with them.
“It was a shock from the very word go that Nathan suddenly was not there and the target ever since that has been trying to find him. The cooperation between everybody involved – us, the police force, all the volunteers – has really been focused on that one thing – trying to find him,” Mr. Beck said. Mr. Clarke’s parents are expected to arrive in Cayman on Friday or Saturday.
Asked how likely it might be that Mr. Clarke had gone swimming the night he disappeared, Mr. Beck said his daughter’s fiancé had taught watersports for several years and was a strong swimmer who respected the sea. “From that point of view, I cannot imagine him doing anything that would be a silly thing to do. I don’t believe so, but I can’t rule it out, because I don’t know. It’s all a bit of a mystery.”
He said the family and police and volunteers were still focused on the “end game to try to find Nathan”.
“We don’t want to give up, the more the time goes on, obviously it raises the bar and makes things more difficult,” he added.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the major incident room set up at West Bay police station on 949-3999 or email [email protected]