Fishing boat sinks in California

/ Source: The Associated Press

A sportfishing boat with 28 people aboard sank off the Pacific Coast, killing one passenger and sending another to the hospital.

Coast Guard officials Sunday continued their investigation into Saturday’s accident, which occurred in 50-degree water about a mile off shore and about five miles south of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The trip aboard the 49-foot Contender had continued even after some passengers complained to crew members that the boat was taking on water, said passenger Chuck Taylor, of Reno, Nev.

“All of a sudden, it started taking on swells of water,” Taylor said. “It just got worse and worse and worse.”

Crew members bailed water with buckets before the boat began to tip.

'Sliding off'
“The boat was obviously going over. It was laying on its side. We were all sliding off,” said passenger Scott Tilzey, also of Reno.

Most of the 24 passengers and four crew members had been rescued by people in nearby private boats by the time the Coast Guard arrived, even though swells averaging about eight feet had made the rescue difficult, Petty Officer Brian Greer said.

Passengers were taken to Fort Baker, just north of San Francisco, where an 85-year-old man was pronounced dead.

“He had a pulse and was breathing intermittently on the (rescue) boat,” Greer said.

Marin County coroner’s investigator Pam Carter identified the victim as Juan Sablan, of Salida. She said a cause of death probably would be known Monday.

A 46-year-old man was taken to an area hospital for treatment of hypothermia and chest pains. His condition was unavailable Sunday.

Other passengers were treated at the scene for signs of hypothermia.

Coast Guard Lt. Lexia Littlejohn declined to discuss the investigation and could not say whether the boat would be raised.

The boat was chartered from Emeryville Sportfishing, which books tours for nine independently owned and operated boats.

'Lot of grief'
“This is the first time in 29 years we’ve had anything like this happen,” said Craig Stone, the company’s owner. “There’s just a lot of grief right now.”

Stone said the boat was owned by Allen Chin, who purchased it this year.

“He’s a conscientious operator and a good guy,” Stone said, adding that Chin was piloting the boat when it went down.

Efforts to reach Chin on Sunday were unsuccessful.