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Friends: Americans killed by pirates were careful

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Msgr. Lloyd Torgerson, second from right, joins parishioners for a special prayer during morning Mass for two members, Jean and Scott Adam, and their two companions slain by Somali pirates. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon) Msgr. Lloyd Torgerson, second from right, joins parishioners for a special prayer during morning Mass for two members, Jean and Scott Adam, and their two companions slain by Somali pirates. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
This undated combination of photos provided Tuesday Feb. 22, 2011 by the Del Rey Yacht Club, shows Scott, left, and Jean Adam of Marina del Rey, Calif. (AP Photo/Del Rey Yacht Club) This undated combination of photos provided Tuesday Feb. 22, 2011 by the Del Rey Yacht Club, shows Scott, left, and Jean Adam of Marina del Rey, Calif. (AP Photo/Del Rey Yacht Club)
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SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) — They were four adventure seekers who loved the sea and wanted to see the world. Friends said they were meticulous and planned for any dangers, but even that couldn't prepare them for the Somali pirates who stormed their yacht and took their lives.

The boat's owners, Jean and Scott Adam of Marina del Rey, along with Bob Riggle and Phyllis Macay of Seattle, were shot to death early Tuesday, after pirates took them hostage on Friday about several hundred miles south of Oman.

Macay's niece, Nina Crossland, told reporters Tuesday that her aunt was "a very smart and avid sailor."

"I think she was smart enough and planned ahead and prepared to not be in this type of situation," she said, visibly shaken and holding back tears.

The Adams had been sailing full-time on their 58-foot yacht, the Quest, since December 2004 after retiring. They often travelled with friends, and on this trip were joined by Riggle and Macay.

Mariners were warned about traveling around the Horn of Africa because of the risk of pirate attacks. The four sailors traveled with a large flotilla to stay safe earlier in the trip, but left the group at the time of the attack, said Crossland.

The pirates shot the four after firing a rocket-propelled grenade at a U.S. warship, one of several vessels tracking the hijacked boat over the weekend. Fifteen men were captured.

Macay, 59, was wounded but alive when Navy SEALs boarded the Quest after the shooting, but she died later, her niece said.

Macay and Riggle had left Seattle on Riggle's sailboat for a world voyage in September 2007, but in recent years had been crewing on separate boats, said Macay's friend Cynthia Kirkham, of Seattle.

Joe Grande, a fellow member of the Seattle Singles Yacht Club, said the deaths were like losing family to those who knew the pair.

"Great sailors, good people. They were doing what they wanted to do, but that's small comfort in the face of this," Grande said.

The U.S. flag flew at half-staff Tuesday at the Del Rey Yacht Club in Marina del Rey, a small boat harbor on the Southern California coast where the Adams made their base.

Gary Deitsch, commodore of the club, said members were devastated by the killings. The couple had belonged to the club since 2001.

"We are deeply saddened," he said. "We hope their deaths will bring about the world's focus to eliminate this violence."

DeDe Allen, the club's secretary who was a friend of couple and had sailed with them, said they were last in Marina del Rey in December.

"They were just wonderful people to be with," Allen said. "Their personal mission was enjoying life."

Scott Adam, who was in his mid-60s, had been an associate producer in Hollywood when he became spiritual and enrolled in Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena a decade ago, said Robert K. Johnston, a professor at the seminary.

His wife had been a dentist, Torgerson said.

At St. Monica's Catholic Church in Santa Monica, where the Adams were parishioners and Jean Adam sang in the choir, Monsignor Lloyd Torgerson described the killings as heartbreaking during morning Mass.

The Adams took Bibles with them to distribute to far-flung corners of the world, he said.

"They were an extraordinary couple," Torgerson said. "They were joyful people."

Riggle was a relief veterinarian for the Seattle Animal Shelter for the past eight years or so, spaying and neutering adopted animals, said director Don Jordan.

"He wasn't a man of many words, but he was a kind-hearted individual with a great passion for animals and animal welfare," Jordan said.

Riggle once took a colleague's family sailing when their daughter was diagnosed with cancer to get their mind off their troubles. "That was just a small indicator about how he treated people," he said.

Macay was vice president for training and development for Profitability Consulting Group, an adviser to retail furniture stores based in Hillsborough, N.C. She and Riggle were romantically involved when they first met, but later were friends who sailed together, Kirkham said.

Profitability Consulting CEO John Eggers said Macay was regarded in the industry as one of the top educators and presenters on design and sales.

"She was such a free spirit," Eggers said. "She was just a real professional and just loved life."

___

Tibbits reported from Seattle. Associated Press writers Phuong Le in Seattle and Jason Dearen in South San Francisco also contributed to this report.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

This is the latest update from the AP. Below is the previous story.

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) — An adventurous quartet of yacht enthusiasts from California and Washington state were living their dreams, friends say, retiring and sailing around the world until they were shot and killed by Somali pirates on Tuesday.

The yacht's owners, Jean and Scott Adam of Marina del Rey near Los Angeles, along with Bob Riggle and Phyllis Macay of Seattle were taken hostage on Friday several hundred miles south of Oman. U.S. naval forces trailing the captured yacht with four warships quickly boarded the vessel after hearing the gunfire Tuesday, but the Americans died of their wounds. Two pirates were killed and 13 captured.

"We are heartbroken. They were an extraordinary couple," Monsignor Lloyd Torgerson said of the Adams during morning Mass at St. Monica Catholic Church in Santa Monica.

Friends, family and fellow sailors said that despite an adventurous spirit, the four were meticulous planners who knew the dangers they faced. The Adams had been sailing around the world since December 2004 with a yacht full of Bibles to distribute to remote regions, and were joined by Riggle and Macay, who left Seattle nine or 10 months ago.

The four had traveled with a large flotilla to stay safe from pirates earlier in the trip, but had left the group when the attack occurred, McCay's niece, Nina Crossland, told reporters in San Francisco.

Visibly shaken and holding back tears, Crossland said her 59-year-old aunt was shot but alive when Navy Seals boarded the Quest. She died later.

"My aunt is a very smart and avid sailor," Crossland told reporters in South San Francisco on Tuesday morning. "I think she was smart enough and planned ahead and prepared to not be in this type of situation."

Mariners were warned about traveling through the area because of the dangers of pirate attacks, but friends and fellow sailors said danger is part of the reality of sailing.

Riggle "would never do anything to jeopardize Phyllis," Hank Curci, a friend and fellow member of the Seattle Singles Yacht Club .

Riggle had worked as a relief veterinarian for the Seattle Animal Shelter for the past seven to eight years, providing spay and neutering services for adopted animals and through a city program, said director Don Jordan.

"He wasn't a man of many words but he was a kind-hearted individual with a great passion for animals and animal welfare," Jordan said. "He treated our staff with dignity and respect."

Jordan recalled that Riggle once took a colleague's family sailing when their daughter was diagnosed with cancer to get their mind off their troubles. "That was just a small indicator about how he treated people," he said.

Scott Adam, who is in his mid-60s, had been an associate producer in Hollywood when he turned in a spiritual direction and enrolled in Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena a decade ago, said Robert K. Johnston, a professor at the seminary.

"They were just passing out Bibles, trying to do a good thing," said Barbara Herred, who attended the Mass in Santa Monica. "It's just so sad."

___

AP reporter Phuong Le in Seattle and Jason Dearen in San Francisco contributed to this report.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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