Coast Guard resumes search for missing boaters off Baja - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Coast Guard resumes search for missing boaters off Baja

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  • Search for survivors after Baja fishing boat capsizes

    Search for survivors after Baja fishing boat capsizes

    Monday, July 4 2011 10:18 AM EDT2011-07-04 14:18:05 GMT
    Monday, July 4 2011 8:35 PM EDT2011-07-05 00:35:50 GMT
    The U.S. Coast Guard is continuing the search for survivors, as Mexico may be considering abandoning the rescue efforts. 
    The U.S. Coast Guard is continuing the search for survivors, as Mexico may be considering abandoning the rescue efforts. One person was killed and seven others are missing, including a number of tourists from the Bay Area. 

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The U.S. Coast Guard continued Tuesday to help Mexican authorities search for seven people who went missing when a San Diego-based chartered ship capsized in the Sea of Cortez over the Fourth of July weekend.

As of early evening, there were no reports that any of those still at large from the boating accident in the Gulf of California had been located.

The Erik was on a four-night trip out of San Felipe, 200 miles southeast of San Diego, when it was struck by two rogue waves about 2:30 a.m. Sunday and sank near Isla San Luis in Baja California.

The vessel was carrying 27 tourists, most apparently out of Northern California, and 17 crew members. One person drowned, but 37 others -- including the entire crew -- were rescued or managed to swim to shore, according to a Mexican Navy spokesman.

On Monday, the U.S. Coast Guard sent a helicopter from San Diego to help search for survivors. Tuesday, a C-130 "Hercules" aircraft from Sacramento took over for the chopper crew, said Petty Officer 2nd Class Henry Dunphy, a spokesman for the federal maritime agency.

The C-130 -- which has a 3,000-mile range and is the Coast Guard's primary long-range search-and-rescue asset -- allowed planners to expand the search area as well as re-search already covered areas, Dunphy said.

The large plane arrived in the area where the boat went down early Tuesday afternoon and was expected to continue flying over the seas there for about 4 1/2 hours, according to Dunphy.

Though fighting off hypothermia is one of the biggest challenges for people missing at sea, water temperatures where the vessel foundered were in the 80s on Monday, making it possible that the missing people could still be alive. Dunphy said.

The Erik was a "mother ship" fitted with supplies, sleeping berths and a galley for a fleet of "panga" boats that take fishermen to spots in the northern end of the Sea of Cortez. It is operated by Baja Sportfishing Inc., which said on its website Tuesday that due to what occurred Sunday, "all further trips are canceled."

In a statement, San Diego-based company officials said they were "devastated by this horrible tragedy. Every effort is being made to assist the authorities in the search. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families."

The dead passenger was not immediately identified, but in a statement late Monday, the Mexican Navy listed the names of eight missing passengers and said the fatality was probably among them. They were identified as Russell Bautista, Shawn Chaddock, Mark Dorland, Don Lee, Gene Leong, Al Mein, Brian Wong and Leslie Yee.

Coast Guard helicopter crews from San Diego have been released from the case but will respond if needed, Dunphy said.

THIS IS A STORY UPDATE. Read an earlier story below.

SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - There are new details about a fishing boat full of Americans that sank in the Sea of Cortez.

The Coast Guard is sending a plane with more people to search the area, looking in new areas based on the ocean currents. 

A Coast Guard crew from Sacramento was sent Tuesday to help continue this search and rescue effort. The search area has been expanded based on drift patterns. 

Seven Americans are still missing and family and friends still have high hopes they'll be found alive.

The boat was carrying 43 passengers and crew and was capsized by two rogue waves during a fast moving storm around 2:30 a.m. Sunday.

At least one person was killed and another seven are missing.

Most passengers swam to shore and others were picked up by boaters after spending up to 16 hours floating in the sea.

THIS IS AN UPDATE TO THE PREVIOUS STORY BELOW.

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A search was under way Tuesday for seven people who disappeared when a San Diego-based chartered ship capsized in the Sea of Cortez, killing one person.

The Erik was sold-out for a four-night trip out of San Felipe, 200 miles southeast of San Diego when it was struck by two rogue waves about 2:30 a.m. Sunday and sank near Isla San Luis in Baja California.

The vessel was reported to have carried 27 tourists, most of whom are believed to have come from Northern California, and 16 or 17 crew members. One person was confirmed drowned and more than a half-dozen were missing but 37 -- including all the crew members -- were rescued or swam ashore, said a Mexican Navy spokesman at San Felipe.

On Monday, the U.S. Coast Guard sent a helicopter from San Diego to help search for survivors. Tuesday, a C-130 Hercules airplane from Sacramento was expected to be sent instead, said Petty Officer 2nd Class Henry Dunphy, a USCG spokesman based in San Diego.

The C-130 is capable of carrying more people, which will translate into more eyes looking for the seven missing tourists, Dunphy said.

Dunphy said fighting off hypothermia was one of the biggest challenges for people missing at sea and with water temperatures in the 80s on Monday, it was possible the missing people could still be alive.

The Erik is a "mother ship" fitted with supplies, sleeping berths and a galley for a fleet of "panga" boats that take fishermen to spots in the northern end of the Sea of Cortez. It is operated by Baja Sportfishing Inc., which said on its website today that "Due to events occurring at this moment, all further trips are cancelled."

In a statement, the San Diego-based company wrote, "We are devastated by this horrible tragedy. Every effort is being made to assist the authorities in the search. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families."

The dead passenger was not immediately identified but in a statement late Monday, the Mexican Navy listed the names of eight missing passengers and said the fatality was probably among them, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. They were Don Lee, Russell Bautista, Mark Dorland, Leslie Yee, Brian Wong, Al Mein, Gene J. Leong and Shawn Chaddock.

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