The local fishing community is working to establish a memorial for all those from the area who have died on the water.

Friday was the 13th annual memorial for those who have died at sea, with a special Mass said at the Our Lady Star of the Sea Church on Atlantic Avenue and a memorial at the Fisherman's Park at Rhode Island and Melrose avenues. Both services were attended by about 100 people.

City Emergency Management Director Tom Foley said the city and Casino Reinvestment Development Authority are working together to create a plaque by next year with the names of all area residents who have died at sea. So far, 18 names have been collected who died in eight different incidents since 1932.

"Besides the casino industry, we are a fishing town. We have a tremendous fishing community," he said. "These are people who tried to enjoy this benefit of Atlantic City and unfortunately lost their lives."

The annual memorial service started the year after three men - Ed "Hacksaw" Peterson, Steve Hayes and Jeff Giannini - died while on a boat in August 1999. Peterson's 23-foot boat apparently sank as the men were returning home from a fishing trip.

Absecon resident Alyssa Scull, Peterson's daughter, said the event is important because it allows her family a chance every year to reconnect with her father's friends and the families of the other two victims.

"It feels good to have everyone support us year after year," she said.

This year the organizers added a new name to the list - Egg Harbor Township resident David McAuliffe, 34, a captain for Sea Tow whose boat sank in 10-foot seas in the Great Egg Harbor Inlet on April 23. Scull said she reached out to his family who said they were honored by McAuliffe's inclusion in the ceremony but were unable to attend.

Atlantic City resident Stephen Jones said officials are asking for the public's help to identify any more victims of boating-related deaths. Jones said he is researching old newspaper articles to find out as much information as he can.

"When people are lost at sea there is nowhere for their families to go," he said. "It's why it's important to have this done."

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Lost at sea

The following is a list of those who have died at sea who will be included on a planned plaque at Fishermen's Park in Atlantic City:

April 23, 2013

Sea Tow Captain David C. McAuliffe, Egg Harbor Township

May 2007

Merele Rubert, Smithville

February 2004

Timothy Stark, Atlantic City

August 20, 1999

Ed 'Hacksaw' Peterson, Absecon

Steve Hayes, Atlantic City

Jeff Giannini, Galloway


Claude Phillips, Pleasantville

Nov. 25, 1950

Martin Mortensen, Atlantic City

Adolph Nielsen, Atlantic City

Alfred Bjorge – Atlantic City

Toraif Olsen, Beach Haven

Jack Killeen, Atlantic City

March 6, 1932

Five Coast Guardsmen from the Atlantic City Station lost at sea in an attempt to locate the fishing vessel Anna

John Barnett, Bay Head

William Garton

Charles Graham

Hal Livingston

Marvin E. Rhodes