Boat manufacturer: Sailboat in fatal accident was overloaded - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Boat manufacturer: Sailboat in fatal accident was overloaded

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John Bolduc, right, Chief of the San Diego Harbor Police, makes a statement at a news conference Monday, March 28, 2011 in San Diego. (AP) John Bolduc, right, Chief of the San Diego Harbor Police, makes a statement at a news conference Monday, March 28, 2011 in San Diego. (AP)
A boat approaches a dock where two bodies lie covered in San Diego, Calif. Sunday, March 27, 2011, after a sailboat with nine people aboard capsized and sank in the San Diego Bay, leaving two men drowned and seven people injured, authorities said. (AP) A boat approaches a dock where two bodies lie covered in San Diego, Calif. Sunday, March 27, 2011, after a sailboat with nine people aboard capsized and sank in the San Diego Bay, leaving two men drowned and seven people injured, authorities said. (AP)
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    A father and son died when a sailboat carrying 10 people on an excursion organized by a group that helps disabled people capsized in calm water in San Diego Bay, authorities said Monday. 
    A father and son died when a sailboat carrying 10 people on an excursion organized by a group that helps disabled people capsized in calm water in San Diego Bay, authorities said Monday. 

SAN DIEGO (AP) - The manufacturer of a 26-foot sailboat that capsized during a charity sail for special needs children says the craft was "grossly overloaded" during the mishap that killed two passengers.

Roger MacGregor, who produced the 1988 MacGregor sailboat, said Tuesday there are no weight restrictions on the boat but 10 people would make the craft dangerously unstable.

MacGregor, who is based in Costa Mesa, has spoken with investigators several times since the accident late Sunday.

John Shean, president of the board of the Indiana-based Heart of Sailing charity, didn't immediately return a call seeking comment about MacGregor's opinion.

The boat overturned in calm seas in San Diego Bay with 10 people, including two children, on board.

THIS IS A STORY UPDATE. Read AP's earlier story below.

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The safety practices of a foundation that pairs volunteer boat captains with special-needs people who want to learn how to sail are under scrutiny after a sailboat on a sponsored trip capsized, killing a man and his son.

The 26-foot MacGregor boat overturned Sunday in San Diego Bay, killing the two men and sending eight others into the cold water. Some of the 10 people aboard were not wearing life jackets, said San Diego Harbor Police Chief John Bolduc, whose agency is leading the investigation.

Investigators were trying to determine the position of a retractable keel and whether passengers exceeded the boat's weight limit. The boat went down in calm seas near a buoy marking the way from a protected inlet to the channel of the bay.

Bolduc said the trip was sponsored by an Indiana-based nonprofit group that provides sailing trips to people with disabilities, but declined to name it.

Two government officials familiar with the investigation said it was the Heart of Sailing of Bloomington, which serves children and adults with developmental disorders like autism and Down syndrome. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

The voicemail box was full at the charity's headquarters Monday night. An email sent after-hours was not immediately returned.

The group's website says Heart of Sailing was founded in 2004 by George Saidah, a software entrepreneur and sailor who was motivated by his experience with a loved one with a cognitive disorder. The website boasts "a 100 percent satisfaction and safety record."

Its San Diego schedule called for seven voyages Sunday.

The water temperature at the time was in the high 50s, low enough for hypothermia to begin setting in before help arrived.

Chao Chen, 73, and his son, Jun Chen, 48, of San Diego, died Sunday night. They were among seven members of one family aboard, said San Diego Fire-Rescue spokesman Maurice Luque.

Another person, who was not identified, was in "rather serious condition" on Monday, Bolduc said.

Among those thrown into the water were two young adults with undisclosed special needs, and a 10-year-old girl and an 11-year-old boy who were wearing life jackets, authorities said.

___

Associated Press writers Robert Jablon and Gillian Flaccus contributed to this report from Los Angeles.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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