The Belmont man aboard a chartered ship that capsized on a Fourth of July fishing trip out of San Felipe told The Associated Press that several passengers survived by clinging to a cooler after being hurled into the waters.
Michael Ng, one of the 37 people reported Tuesday to have survived the capsizing, said the boat was less than 2 miles from shore when it overturned early Sunday.
When the boat overturned, several passengers stayed afloat and swam with the help of a cooler, according to the AP. Ng, another passenger and a cook were headed for shore when they were rescued by a fishing boat.
The chartered ship on a Fourth of July fishing trip out of San Felipe was capsized by two rogue waves in Mexico's Sea of Cortez early Sunday, leaving one person confirmed dead and seven missing.
A C-130 Hercules aircraft was deployed out of Sacramento on Tuesday morning to aid in the search for survivors, said Coast Guard Petty Officer 2d Class Henry Dunphy. The C-130 is used for long-range search-and-rescue operations, he added. It was called for in this search because survivors may have drifted away from the point where the ship capsized. The Mexican navy also is involved in the search.
Correction: An story said the boat left out of Dana Point. In fact, the Erik launched from San Felipe.
The ship, called the Erik, was sold out for a four-night trip to the fertile fishing grounds off Baja California. It is operated by Baja Sportfishing out of San Diego, which said on its website Wednesday that "Due to events occurring at this moment, all further trips are canceled.''
Most of the passengers were from San Francisco, the Coast Guard reported. The Erik is a "mother ship,'' 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.
Survivors included Charles Gibson, 57, the police chief of the Contra Costa Community College District in Martinez. In a telephone interview with The Associated Press from San Felipe, Gibson said that he was “sleeping like a baby” when crew and fellow passengers sounded the alarm that the ship was sinking.
The vessel sank near Isla San Luis, Baja California, with 44 people aboard about 2:30 a.m. Sunday, according to the Coast Guard. Most passengers swam to shore, and some were rescued by other boats.
One-foot waves and good visibility mean "fairly decent conditions'' for searching, said Dunphy. Chances for survival "depend on several factors, such as did they have access to lifejackets and were they wearing them; are there any flotation devices or other survival gear present," Dunphy said. Water temperatures are warm.
In a statement, Baja Sportfishing 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 identified by the Mexican Navy on Tuesday as Leslie Yee of Ceres (Stanislaus County).
- Marcelino Morales-Villegas
- Roman Amador-Farias
- Jose Maria Diaz-Ordoñez
- Marco Antonio Villa-Bejarano
- Azor Quintana-Romo
- Robert Higgins
- Ross Anderson
- Charles Gibson
- Gary Hanson
- Isael Kui Mingng
- Jim Miller
- Richard Ciadattari
- Lee Ikegami
- Gary Wong
- Craig Wong
- Fius Zuger
- David Leving
- Bruce Marr
- Adolph Joseph Beler
- Michael Ng
- Jerry Garcia
— Bay City News Service contributed to this report