Details of Disappearance
Shearer was visiting Marco Island, Florida from his hometown of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada in November 1994. He arrived with his friends Kent Munro
and David Madott
on November 3.
The group planned to spend the weekend at their friend Jeffrey Wandich's family's condominium on the island. A photo of Wandich is posted with this case summary. Madott, Munro and Shearer planned to return to Ontario on November 7. Shearer was employed at Ottawa Civic Hospital in Ottawa, Ontario in 1994.
The four men departed from Marco River Marina in Wandich's pleasure boat, the Sea Esta, at approximately 8:00 a.m. on November 4. All four were licensed scuba divers and planned to spend the day fishing and diving at the wreck of the Baja California, which was located approximately 55 miles southwest of Marco Island in the Gulf of Mexico.
Wandich turned the Sea Esta back to the marina shortly after they departed when it appeared one of his outboard motors was overheating. He purchased two thermostats as emergency replacements and continued the trip.
Wandich stated that they stopped to catch bait at the wreck of Ben's Barge later in the morning. The wreck is approximately four miles in the Gulf from Marco Island. The group decided that weather conditions were good and traveled on to the Baja California wreck that afternoon.
They fished at the site for approximately one hour before Munro became queasy due to the increasing surf. The group decided to dive at the wreck and left the Sea Esta unattended during their 15 minutes underwater.
When the men surfaced, Wandich stated that they saw approximately three feet of the boat's bow out of the water. The rest of the vessel had submerged during their dive at approximately 3:30 p.m.
All the men wore wetsuits and fully inflated buoyancy compensators (BCs). They held on to the anchor rope together as the Sea Esta remained partially submerged until approximately 7:00 p.m.
According to Wandich, Shearer was the first to realize that the boat was sinking completely into the water and the rope was torn from the group's hands at that time. They began swimming together towards a light tower operated by the United States Department Of Defense.
The tower was located approximately three miles east of the Baja California wreck. The seas swelled to six feet by that point in the evening.
Wandich said that he was briefly overcome by fear as the men swam to the tower and he turned away from the group. He stated Shearer encouraged him to rejoin them and called out to him several times. He said he replied that he was not going off on his own, but he could no longer see his three friends when he turned back.
Wandich said he looked over the surf for signs of Madott, Munro and Shearer for a period of time before swimming to the tower by himself.
Wandich climbed the tower at approximately 11:00 p.m. on November 4 and remained at the location until the morning of November 6, when he was rescued by the United States Coast Guard. He learned that his three friends had not been located at that time.
A search had been deployed for the four men during the evening hours of November 4, when Wandich's loved ones realized the Sea Esta had not returned to port.
There has been no sign of Madott, Munro or Shearer since November 4. Many rumors have surfaced throughout the proceeding years regarding their cases. The theories have ranged from voluntary disappearances to a drug deal gone awry. None of the rumors have been proven to be accurate.
A group of divers searched the wreck of the Sea Esta shortly after it went down and discovered the boat may not have been equipped to handle the weight of its load on November 4, thereby causing the vessel to sink.
The FBI was involved in the case of the missing men for a short time in 1994, but ruled the incident was an accident and that Madott, Munro and Shearer were most likely lost at sea as a result. Their families continue to search for answers as to the men's whereabouts.