Father, son die in San Diego sailboat expeditionSAN DIEGO — 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.
By: By Elliot Spagat, The Associated Press, The Jamestown Sun
SAN DIEGO — 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.
Chao Chen, 73, and his son, Jun Chen, 48, of San Diego died Sunday night, San Diego Harbor police Chief John Bolduc said. Another person, who was not identified, was in serious condition.
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.
Some people on the boat were not wearing life jackets, Balduc said, but authorities had not yet determined how many.
The cause of the mishap remained under investigation, but it appeared no other boats were involved.
The people on the 26-foot boat included seven members of one family and two members of another, along with the driver of the craft. They spoke Cantonese and English.
The excursion was organized by an unidentified Indiana-based group that provides sailing trips for people with disabilities, authorities said.
The accident occurred near a buoy marking the way from a protected inlet to the channel of the bay. Harbor Police and civilian craft arrived within five minutes.
“Although this is a significant tragedy for San Diego — the loss of two lives — it was the heroism of Good Samaritans, Harbor Police officers and San Diego firefighters that led to the rescue of eight people in a very dangerous situation,” Bolduc said at a news conference.
The water temperature at the time was in the high 50s, low enough for hypothermia to begin setting in before help arrived.
The capsized boat had a retractable keel, but it was not known what position it was in during the mishap, Bolduc said.
Authorities also were determining how much weight the boat was carrying to determine if it was overloaded.
Chris Tucker, owner of SailTime Channel Islands in Oxnard, said a boat that size should hold six people maximum, but with 10 aboard, there would be scant room for everyone to sit down.
“With that many people, if four people were told to sit over there and the other people got up, that would be enough instability right there,” he said. “I'm amazed they didn't sink right where they all got on. That's just overloading the boat.”
The boat was carrying five men, three women and two children, authorities said.
The eight injured people were taken to hospitals. The children were released after being treated briefly.
One woman drove herself to the hospital without alerting rescuers, leading to incorrect initial reports that there were only nine people aboard, San Diego Fire-Rescue spokesman Maurice Luque said.
A witness said the rescue scene was chaotic.
“I couldn't see the boat. I just saw them pulling people onto the launch, doing CPR, and a lot of people screaming and yelling,” witness Ty Alicot told The San Diego Union-Tribune. “It's pretty hard to turn over a sailboat that big.”
Investigators removed the boat from the water and hauled it to the boatyard to examine it.
Associated Press writers Andrew Dalton, Robert Jablon and Gillian Flaccus contributed to this report from Los Angeles.