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1 Dead, 8 Missing After Rogue Waves Strike Tourist Boat In Sea Of Cortez

San Diego Coast Guard Searching For Survivors

Audio

Aired 7/4/11

A chartered ship, packed with Americans on a Fourth of July fishing trip, was struck by two rogue waves in the Sea of Cortez and capsized, prompting the Coast Guard to send a helicopter from San Diego to help search for survivors.

A chartered ship, packed with Americans on a Fourth of July fishing trip, was struck by two rogue waves in the Sea of Cortez and capsized, prompting the Coast Guard to send a helicopter from San Diego to help search for survivors.

The ship, called the Erik, was sold-out for a four-night trip out of San Felipe, 200 miles southeast of San Diego. One person was confirmed drowned, 8 people were missing, and 37 souls had been rescued at sea or swam ashore, said a Mexican Navy spokesman at San Felipe.

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. Trips are offered by a Dana Point company called JigStop and are popular with Southern California residents.

The vessel sank near Isla San Luis, Baja California, with 44 people aboard around 2:30 a.m. Sunday, according to the Coast Guard. Most passengers swam to shore, and some were rescued by other boats.

The Mexican Navy searched throughout the day with surface and air crews, and officers called the U.S. Coast Guard Sunday evening for helicopter assistance, Coast Guard officials said. A MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter lifted off from the San Diego Coast Guard station at 6:30 a.m.

"They will coordinate with the Mexican Navy crews already on scene and search for several hours, before flying back to San Diego for fuel,'' said Petty Officer 2d. Class Henry Dunphy, in an interview with Fox 5 San Diego.

One foot waves and good visibility mean "fairly decent conditions'' for searching, Dunphy said.

Water temperatures there are warm, but Dunphy said survival chances depend on variables like life jackets, age of the person and other factors.

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