US destroyer collision: Fiancee of missing sailor hopeful he will be home for their wedding

Ms Megan Partlow and Mr Jacob Drake plan to wed in July next year. Mr Drake was one of the sailors who went missing after the collision on Monday.
Ms Megan Partlow and Mr Jacob Drake plan to wed in July next year. Mr Drake was one of the sailors who went missing after the collision on Monday.

The fiancee of one of the 10 sailors missing from an American guided-missile destroyer is hopeful he will be safe and return home for their wedding next year.

Ms Megan Partlow, 21, told The Straits Times yesterday afternoon that she has been notified that her fiance, Mr Jacob Drake, 22, is among the sailors who went missing after the USS John S. McCain and merchant vessel Alnic MC collided in Singapore's territorial waters on Monday.

Her fiance's parents received a visit from a US naval representative at 6pm on Monday (Singapore time), about 12 hours after the incident, and informed her immediately afterwards.

The two are planning to wed in July next year.

"I have spent the last six months planning a wedding that may never happen, as well as planning on moving this December to live with him," Ms Partlow said via Facebook Messenger, adding that she is living in Ohio and that Mr Drake is expected to be stationed in North Carolina from December.

"I just want him to come home safe," she added.

For more than 24 hours, American Justine Coleman also fretted about the whereabouts of her estranged son, a 20-year-old who was believed to be aboard the USS John S. McCain.

The destroyer is based in Japan and was en route to Singapore early on Monday morning when the collision took place.

Unable to get hold of her son directly or get through to the McCain hotlines, Ms Coleman turned to a Facebook group for former crew members of the ship: "My son is aboard that ship. Please pray he is okay."

Ms Coleman, who lives in Houston, said she was desperate for any sign that her son - whom she declined to name - was okay.

More than nine hours after she left the message, she told The Straits Times over Facebook Messenger at 11.30am (Singapore time) yesterday: "Things have not changed, and my heart hurts so bad."

It was a worry shared by many of the crew's family members and loved ones. Apart from the 10 missing, another five were injured.

Another worried mother was Ms Theresa Palmer, who wrote on a Facebook group for members of the ship: "Waiting to hear from my son... I am sick with worry."

Ms Toni Greim-Findley, whose brother is on the ship, wrote: "Please send word to us, please. I am absolutely dying."

At around 12.30pm yesterday, a single phone call put Ms Coleman's anxiety - and perhaps that of others - to rest.

A US Navy representative called and told her that the families of those sailors who are missing or were injured had already been notified - in other words, no news was good news.

The representative added that some sailors might not have access to phones.

Still, the phone call came as a great relief to Ms Coleman.

"Now I pray he will call us soon," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 23, 2017, with the headline 'Anxious wait for families and loved ones of crew members'. Subscribe