04/18/2011 // San Francisco, CA, USA // Mary Alexander // CA Maritime Accident Lawyer Mary Alexander
San Diego, CA (Maritime Accident Lawyer) — A “gust of wind” was cited as the cause of a fatal sailing accident in the San Diego Bay that killed the uncle and grandfather of a special needs child on a charity boat trip. Eight other people on board the sailboat, including two children, were hospitalized after they were thrown into the cold bay water, reported the Associated Press.
The gust of wind hit the 26-foot 1988 MacGregor sailboat and caught the jib, the only sail raised at the time, which caused the boat to capsize, according to John Shean, board president for the Bloomington, IN-based Heart of Sailing Foundation.
A total of 10 people were aboard the sailboat at the time, including the charity founder and executive director George Saidah. Officials reported that some of the people on board the boat were not wearing life jackets at the time, but it is unknown how many people were wearing the flotation devices. Under California law, only children are required to wear life jackets.
Chao Chen, 73, and his son, Jun Chen, 48, of San Diego drowned as a result of the accident, which took place on Sunday, March 27, 2011.
Eight others were rushed to area hospitals, including an 11-year-old autistic boy and his 9-year-old sister, who was not a special needs child. But, other reports from authorities stated that the two special needs passengers were young adults and not children. In addition, the age of the girl was reported as 10, not 9. Officials are still trying to sort out the conflicting reports.
As of Monday, one victim was considered to be in critical condition.
Investigators are currently trying to determine if the weight of the passengers exceeded the limit of the boat, although the number of passengers did not exceed the safety requirements as far as the charity was aware. Sailing experts are still questioning the safety of having that many people on board the light boat, which is designed for easy towing by vehicles.
Shean confirmed that the charity owns the capsized sailboat. Heart for Sailing is fully cooperating with ongoing investigations.
*Leading Bay Area admiralty and maritime accident attorney Mary Alexander states if you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a boating accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and damages. With more than 25 years of experience litigating the multifaceted personal injury and wrongful death claims of accident victims and their families, contacting San Francisco maritime accident lawyer Mary Alexander may help you obtain the compensation you deserve.