Leo was working in exchange for room and board at a dive resort owned by friends of ours on the island of Roatan, off the coast of Honduras. The resort is accessed only by boat. He had been there three weeks. His job consisted of general maintenance, helping with food preparation for guests, preparing dive tanks, and he was learning to operate the dive boat.
He had gotten certified to scuba dive and enjoyed it. He told his friends he was “living in paradise”. He got along well with his co-workers, including two young men from a nearby village. He also enjoyed playing cribbage with the resort owner’s father and entertaining their two year old son (and Archer entertained him as well).
Leo was living a quiet life, but it was grounding and offered him time for reflection. From what we can gather he was a little restless on Christmas Eve and probably had later regrets about not taking a boat ride earlier in the day to the nearest town, to go hang with the guys he worked with. One even offered for him to spend the night at his house. Leo declined, and we think he later regretted that and felt confident enough in his boating abilities to drive the boat himself, in the dark. So off he went. The boat was found December 27, with one life vest missing, and we later found out a life vest was also seen on the same day. We believe that the boat became disabled, and as it began to drift further from shore, he attempted to swim to land and did not succeed.
We had sea planes searching, flyers posted, an ad in a Honduran newspaper, etc. Numerous phone calls were made, including trying to get help from the US embassy in Honduras. Honduran Navy boats and, eventually, US military helicopters searched the coast.
We don’t have finality on what exactly happen. But it does give us a small amount of comfort to know how happy Leo was, living in paradise.
A memorial service will be announced. The family requests privacy at this time.
I can't help with Leo's story, as my understanding is that the family is seeking its privacy. However, there is a larger story around men recently disappearing in Latin America in the past several months. My brother Joe disappeared from Roatan (the same island as Leo) in May. The Missing Americans Project came out of our efforts to help other families navigate the process of searching for their loved ones, given the complete indifference of the U.S. State Department. If you're interested in that story, I will be more than happy to help you. Thanks again for joining the project.
Sure Jeff, I'm a reporter for the Columbia Daily Tribune in Columbia, Mo. I was just sent an email notifiying me that Leo Finley of Columbia has been missing at sea off the coast of Honduras since Christmas Day. I'm working to write a news story about this tragic event and gather information about the disappearance which brought me to your site.
Any additional info you have would be greatly appreciated.