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Nick Schuyler wears tattoo to memorialize three missing boaters: Will Bleakley, Marquis Cooper, Corey Smith

Nick Schuyler memorialized his dead fishing partners Will Bleakley, Marquis Cooper and Corey Smith with this tattoo.

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Nick Schuyler memorialized his dead fishing partners Will Bleakley, Marquis Cooper and Corey Smith with this tattoo.

The lone survivor of an ill-fated fishing trip in the Gulf of Mexico now wears a tattoo memorializing his three friends who died.

The tattoo on the upper right arm of Nick Schuyler is a cross and dangling anchor bearing the initials and reported date of death (March 1) of the three men.

It includes the passage: "In the hour of adversity, be not without hope."

The 21-foot boat carrying the four men overturned in high seas Feb. 28 about 35 miles west of Clearwater. The search for the missing boaters went on for several days.

Schuyler, clinging to the boat motor, was rescued two days after they left Clearwater. The bodies of Will Bleakley, Marquis Cooper and Corey Smith have never been recovered.

"Why he got it? Those are questions for Nick if he ever decides to talk about it," Nick Schuyler's sister, Kristen, told the St. Petersburg Times. "Right now those are conversations we keep to ourselves. It's his story to tell. It's only been three months, and it's still tragic."

Schuyler, she said, returned to work as a personal trainer a few weeks ago. He continues to deny interview requests and has asked his family to do the same, his sister said.

The boating tragedy attracted national media attention, in part because both Cooper and Smith played in the National Football League. The other two played football at the University of South Florida.

Investigations by the Coast Guard and the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission concluded that the boat overturned after a series of errors in 6-foot seas.

The boat did not have an electronic beacon that emits an emergency signal when submerged.

Investigators also focused on Cooper's decision to move the craft's mooring line to the stern, then gun the motor in an attempt to loosen the anchor, which had become stuck on the bottom.

The prose inscribed on the cross is credited to Persian poet Nezami Ganjavi, who died in 1209. The complete verse reads: "In the hour of adversity, be not without hope, for crystal rain falls from black clouds."

The picture became public on A webmaster at the site said the picture was submitted by one of Schuyler's "fans."

Times staff writer Keith Niebuhr contributed to this report.

Nick Schuyler wears tattoo to memorialize three missing boaters: Will Bleakley, Marquis Cooper, Corey Smith 06/03/09 [Last modified: Saturday, June 6, 2009 11:32am]
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