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LSU alum missing off Marshall Islands

POSTED: Wednesday, December 1, 2010 - 7:50pm

UPDATED: Thursday, December 2, 2010 - 10:46pm

BATON ROUGE, La (WVLA) -- A recent LSU graduate has gone missing in the Pacific Ocean, but family and friends remain confident that he'll come home safe very soon.

It's difficult for a family to get that call, but last Saturday, the de Brueys family received some shocking news. Twenty-two-year-old James de Brueys went missing over the weekend. He was on a boat with three other people off the coast of the Marshall Islands. He had been over there five months working with WorldTeach as an English teacher.

His family says James was headed to a Thanksgiving dinner on the main island, Majuro, but then, he and the other boaters never showed up. Early Tuesday morning, the U.S. Coast Guard found his boat overturned and empty. On Wednesday, they found an ice chest full of fish that the group was carrying on their boat.

James' family refuses to believe the worst. "Never give up," says younger sister Simone de Brueys. "If James was here right now, he wouldn't want us to be worrying or upset. He'd be telling us, don't worry about me."

Friends and family say that's the kind of person James is. "If you're not feeling good, you know James is there, cheering you up."

It's that strong personality that gives friends, like Jessica Smith, hope that he's okay. "You can't help, but think he's a warrior. He's a survivor. He's going to beast through it."

The Coast Guard seems to agree. "They've been been asking us, does he swim? How big is he? How strong is he? They told us he would be able to float for 120 hours by himself without a problem," says Simone.

That's just one of the reasons why Smith, family, and friends are throwing a party in James' honor. It's a "coming home" party to raise money for the causes that he's passionate about, like building a basketball court and an outhouse at the elementary school where he works. "He'd be really jazzed about having an outhouse in his name. That's James for you," says Smith with a laugh.

The U.S. Coast Guard continues to search for James and the other missing boaters. "He's maybe on a little island somewhere just waiting for someone to come and get him," says Simone.

And here in Louisiana, friends and family hold out hope that he'll Come Home soon with new adventures to share.

"Everyday that he isn't found the hope doesn't go away. It grows," says Smith. "We're all just waiting to hear this great story he's going to bring back."

Smith ordered Storyville t-shirts to be sold at the fundraiser. The shirts will feature the phrase "Come Home James" and an illustration of his well-known beard. The shirt will be sold Friday December 10th at the Chimes starting at 7pm.

For the latest updates about the event, check out the Facebook group dedicated to James de Brueys

We'll continue to keep you updated with the latest on this story.

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