Entries in Mexican Navy (1)


Search Continues for Missing Men after Boat Capsizes off Mexico

U.S. Coast Guard/Chief Petty Officer Scott Cowan(SAN FELIPE, Mexico) -- Search and rescue teams are scouring the Sea of Cortez by boat and helicopter in a continuing effort to locate the U.S. tourists who are still missing following the sinking of a charter boat off the coast of Mexico.

The U.S. Coast Guard told ABC News it will extend the search area for survivors along with the Mexican Navy. According to Petty Officer Pamela Boehland, the Coast Guard will use larger aircraft for their search efforts on Tuesday that are capable of covering greater distances. The USCG expects to be up in the air over the Sea of Cortez around 10:30a PST.

One man has been confirmed dead, and seven others are still missing -- among them six Americans and one Mexican crew member, according to Mexican officials.  The identity of the dead man has not been released, but he was an American.

The boat, carrying a total of 44 passengers and crew, capsized early Sunday when it was hit by two giant waves, according to Capt. Benjamin Pineda Gomez.  Twenty-seven Americans and 16 crew members were on board the 115-foot-catamaran, which was called the Erik and was operated by the tourism company Baja Fishing.

The vessel was supposed to take the group and crew on a week-long vacation -- an annual Fourth of July outing for a group of friends from Northern California -- but it was caught in a thunderstorm and capsized around 2:30 a.m., about 60 miles south of San Felipe.

The Mexican Navy says there was no mayday call, so for more than 12 hours no one was aware of the situation.  The Navy added that the ship's cook was instrumental in alerting authorities that the boat had gone down after being rescued by a fisherman.

The rescue operation also began after a second local fisherman spotted some survivors at sea.

"When the vessel sank it was close enough to shore that some people were able to swim to shore," said Boehland.  "Other people were picked up by good Samaritan vessels that were in the area.  Others were rescued by the Mexican Navy."

Among the rescued was American Lee Ikegami, who was on a fishing trip with his buddies.  Ikegami spoke to his wife from a hotel, where crews were taking the rescued.

"Somewhere around 10ish last night my husband called and said his boat capsized and that he is fine … I was in shock," Murphy Ikegami, Lee Ikegami's wife, told ABC News.

"All I know is at that time he was not in contact with any of his friends and didn't know how they were.  He was at one end of the boat and was thrown into the sea," she added.

Lee Ikegami says he still has no idea what happened to his friends.

U.S. Consulate General in Tijuana, Mexico released a statement saying their staff had met with all surviving Americans at a hotel in San Felipe and they were working with Mexican officials to provide return transportation back to the U.S. for the American survivors.

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