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Father and son killed in San Diego boating accident identified

Two men who died in a boating accident in San Diego Bay on Sunday afternoon were identified as a father and son who were on an outing that had been organized for developmentally disabled people, authorities said.

All 10 of those aboard the 26-foot sailboat, including two children, were tossed into the frigid waters off Harbor Island when the boat flipped over for reasons still unknown. Seven of the 10 were family members.

Chao Chen, 73, and his son, Jun Chen, 48, of San Diego were pronounced dead at the scene by San Diego Harbor Police.

Eight survivors were taken to UC San Diego Medical Center and Scripps Mercy Hospital, where most were treated for relatively minor injuries related to hypothermia. One woman remains in critical condition, according to Maurice Luque, a spokesman for San Diego Fire-Rescue.

“The water temperature was probably in the mid-50s. They were shivering and cold; that was their main complaint,” Luque said, referring to the survivors with minor injuries.

Weather and sea conditions did not appear to be factors in the accident. There was a light breeze and the waters were calm, Luque said. Nearby boats quickly responded to the partially submerged boat and pulled out many of the survivors. Some were wearing life vests, though it was yet to be determined if the two who died had been wearing vests, Luque said. Harbor Police also arrived within minutes of getting the call at 5:12 p.m., said Marguerite Elicone, spokeswoman for the San Diego Port Authority.

The cause of the accident was still under investigation, she said, and it appeared that no other boats were involved. Luque said authorities were investigating whether the boat was overloaded.

The outing had been organized through an Indiana-based nonprofit organization, and two of the young adults aboard were developmentally disabled, Luque said.


Chaotic scene as rescuers race to boat accident that killed 2 in San Diego Bay

-- Richard Marosi in San Diego

Comments () | Archives (2)

From photos in news stories, the small boat was a centerboard boat without a heavy, deep keel, making it more liable to capsize. Even the center board may have been up (it isn't visible in the photos) but, of course, it may also have fallen back into its slot in the hull when the boat "turtled."

If it was indeed a 25 to 26 ft. boat (variously reported) it was seriously overloaded with 10 people on board; if everyone on board moved toward one side at the same time, that would be enough to capsize such a boat of gross weight of perhaps 3000 lbs.

Horrible to hear about this...but I agree with Jonathan it does seem that the boat may have been overloaded.


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