In a Facebook post on Wednesday, a family spokesperson said the Bahamian government studied the items recovered in numerous searches and believes that Petty was attacked by sharks.
Coast Guard 7th District command center watchstanders were contacted by the captain aboard the commercial dive vessel Shear Water late Sunday night, stating that Petty went shark diving with eight others and he never resurfaced. The Coast Guard immediately launched multiple air and sea assets, supporting Bahamian authorities as they searched until around 11 a.m. on Wednesday morning.
Petty was last seen 20 nautical miles northwest of West End, Bahamas, by one of the divers in the group. Rescue crews have found dive gear within the search area, including a camera and a dive mask, but have not located Petty
Officials say crews searched approximately 4,600 square miles for Petty.
The Royal Bahamas Police Force will consider an investigation.
Petty is well-known in East Texas for many of his talents, awarded multiple times for his breathtaking photography which happens to be scheduled to be on display this weekend at the Longview Museum of Fine Arts.
Friends say Petty had an incredible enthusiasm for life, which makes Wednesday's news difficult to process.
"He researches everything he does. He's intent on enjoying everything that's out there," says Petty's friend, Dr. Bill Bussey, "I truly thought we were going to hear another story about another adventure from him. I truly thought that, but time ran out on us. He's in a better place."
The family says a memorial service is being planned for Petty.
Saturday, July 26 2014 2:09 PM EDT2014-07-26 18:09:07 GMT
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