The Coast Guard is searching for 4 missing people; two adults and two children, who abandoned their sinking 29-foot sailboat for a makeshift raft Sunday evening south of San Francisco.
A distress call came into the Coast Guard beginning at 4:20 p.m. on Sunday afternoon when their 29-foot sailboat was taking on water and the electronics were failing.
Coast Guard Lt. Heather Lampert said investigators were using the boat’s radio signal and radar and believe the call came in from an area about 60 miles west of Monterey, California. The boat did not have a working GPS system.
About an hour later, the Coast Guard lost radio contact after the operator of the sailboat reported that they were abandoning the sailboat.
“He sounded relatively calm considering the fact that they were taking on water and they had the children on board. Panic hadn’t set in. He had contacted the Coast Guard several times and each time we learned a little bit more about the situation,” Coast Guard spokeswoman Petty Officer Pamela Boehland told CNN. “Eventually, the water became too much for them and their electronics failed, their GPS failed, and they decided it was best to abandon ship.”
Lampert said they apparently had made a make-shift lifeboat out of a cooler and life preserver ring. There were no life rafts and it was unclear whether there were life vests on the vessel, she said.
The Coast Guard sent out a helicopter, a HC-130 Hercules aircraft, a lifeboat, a Coast Guard cutter and 87-foot patrol boat to search the area, but found nothing.
The National Weather Service had issued an advisory during the weekend warning boaters of strong winds and rough seas around the Bay Area. Mariners “operating smaller vessels should avoid navigating in these conditions,” the advisory stated.
“The weather was pretty rough yesterday as it most always is in the Pacific. It’s always rough and always cold,” Boehland said.
A recently retired Coast Guard helicopter rescue swimmer and a marine safety specialist, Mario Vittone says, “They’re not going to live long, even in life jackets. That’s cold water out there.”
Marine accidents in waters below 50 degrees F are five times more likely to end in death. According to the National Oceanographic Data Center, the water temperature off San Francisco was 49.3 degrees Fahrenheit (9.6 C).
The Coast Guard identified the four as a husband, wife, their 4-year-old son and his cousin, who is also a child, but no word on their names. “We don’t have a lot of information to go on,” Petty Officer Pam Boehland confirmed.
4 Missing in Waters Off San Francisco | Missing Family Could be Clinging to Life Ring, Cooler
The US Coast Guard intensified its search today for a family of four, including two young children, who may be clinging to a life ring and a cooler off the Northern California coast after their sailboat took on water.
Crews searched overnight by air and by sea, however they found no signs of the missing family.
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