California residents rescued in fatal boat accident in Mexico
One person was reported dead and seven others missing Monday afternoon after a fishing boat carrying 27 U.S. tourists and 16 Mexican crew members capsized in rough seas in the Sea of Cortez, officials said.
The 27 tourists, most of them from California, were aboard the charter vessel Erick when a sudden storm struck the area about 2:30 a.m., hurling people into the ocean in the vicinity of San Luis Island, about 60 miles south of the Baja California port of San Felipe, the Mexican Navy said in a statement. The body water in which the ship capsized is also known as the Gulf of California.
"The weather was calm, and then a strong wind came," Dora Winkler, a spokeswoman with the Port of San Felipe, told the Los Angeles Times.
Some of the first people rescued -- two tourists and the boat's cook -- were plucked from the water by a Mexican fishing boat, according to Winkler.
All of the 16 Mexican crew members were rescued, she said. The tourist who died was only identified as an adult male. Initial reports said six people were missing; officials later raised the number to seven.
A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter from San Diego was assisting the Mexican navy as rescue crews scoured the area for survivors, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Pamela Boehland.
She said the Coast Guard was told by the Mexican Navy that most of the passengers were from Northern California and that one was from Port Angeles, Wash. The search was launched after one of the victims swam to shore and alerted Mexican officials, Boehland said.
"He swam to shore and actually walked to the nearest location," Boehland said, adding that she was unsure whether it was a town or village.
Mexican officials said all of the survivors were wearing life jackets. They were taken to local hospitals and appeared to be in good condition, the Mexican Navy said.
-- David Zahniser and Robert J. Lopez
Photo: Survivors leave a rescue helicopter after being pulled from the Sea of Cortez. Credit: Mexican Navy. Map: Les Dunseith / Los Angeles Times