One year passes since local businessman disappeared in Fiji

by: Erica Bryant Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

This weekend marks one year since local businessman Don Nicholas disappeared during a vacation in Fiji.

He never came back from surfing, and his body has never been found.

On Friday his sister, who lives in Boston, spoke with Eyewitness News by phone as the anniversary of his disappearance approaches on Sunday.

“It’s still a missing piece in all of our hearts,” Lisa Ross said.

One year later, you can still hear the loss lingering in Ross' voice.

“A couple months after he went missing, his baby girl was born,” she said.

On July 15, 2011, her brother disappeared in the water while surfing on vacation in Fiji.

“It's been a year now, and we don't really have any additional answers,” she said. “No rescue or recovery, so there's no closure.”

Eventually, someone on a neighboring island reported finding skeletal remains, but Ross said her U.S. Embassy contact told her he couldn't get the information.

Still, she hasn't given up seeking justice for her brother and trying to warn others.

On Friday, she launched an online petition urging Intercontinental Hotels to stop what she calls "choosing money over human life."

She said no formal investigation was ever done and hotel management told the staff to keep quiet about the incident.

Ross said she believes the hotel put its reputation and future tourism dollars above human life.

She hopes no one else has to endure what they did and she said on the anniversary of his disappearance, “there won't be a friend or family member that doesn't spend the day thinking of him and  reliving a lot of the great and wonderful thoughts and memories we have of him.”

Ross posted that online petition on change.org.

Eyewitness News also emailed Intercontinental Hotels for a response, but we haven't heard back yet.