A local family is going to miss a father and brother this Father's Day because he is in a Honduran jail due to a dispute over weapons his marine salvage crew took into the country.
"It's a lot because he won't be here for Father's Day this year and we were hoping he would be," said Amy Ivey, the sister of Steve Matanich.
"Dad I love you ..." His son Dillian says he made a card with a hand-drawn picture of a house for Steve on Father's Day.
The trip was supposed to be routine with good intentions: salvage mahogany logs from a river to stop flooding and teach local divers there. The family says Matanich was supposed to be home at the end of May, but the trip took a wrong turn.
The six men -- Matanich Devon Butler, Nick Cook, Kelly Grant and brothers Michael and Robert Mayne -- were locked up May 5 on gun smuggling charges in the port of Puerto Lempira. They work for Aqua Quest International, an ocean exploration and archaeological recovery business in Tarpon Springs.
"I always had a bad feeling when he went somewhere on these salvage trips," said Ivey. "They had the OK to go over (there) with five weapons - it doesn't make any sense."
The family says the men are innocent because they had approval to take the weapons -- for protection, not trafficking -- and the firearms were declared at the port.
She says her family had to move into her brother's home in an attempt to help fill a void with him gone. "We've come together as a family and (will) stick together until they come home."
A local family is going to miss a father and brother this Father's Day because he is in a Honduran jail due to a dispute over weapons his marine salvage crew took into the country. WTSP
The family says it's trying to make the best of what's happening -- that's what Matanich is likely doing.
"He makes any bad situation better," Ivey said, adding that it has been four weeks since the family heard Matanich's voice. "That was music to my ears.
"Nothing is happening as fast as we would like it - but we are happy government officials have stepped in and we hope more will," she said.
U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis sent a letter to the Honduran ambassador urging an investigation.