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San Diego man killed in sailboat accident off San Clemente Island

March 9, 2013 |  5:23 pm

Craig Thomas Williams, 36, of San Diego, was killed in the crash of a 32-foot sailboat onto the rocky shoreline of San Clemente Island, the San Diego County medical examiner said Saturday.

Williams was found unresponsive in the water by Coast Guard rescue personnel. "He was recovered from the water and death was confirmed without medical intervention," the medical examiner said.

Four other crew members were rescued. Their boat, the Uncontrollable Urge, was taking part in the Islands Race hosted by the Newport Harbor Yacht Club and San Diego Yacht Club.

The sailboat had issued a mayday call about 9:30 p.m. Friday as the boat's rudder failed and the craft began drifting toward the rocky shore of the island. Initially the sailors declined assistance from the Coast Guard and other boaters.

But about 11 p.m., as the sailors attempted to anchor the vessel, its anchor would not catch, and the vessel drifted even closer to shore. The Coast Guard dispatched a helicopter from San Diego and the cutter Edisto was diverted to the scene.

Finally, the sailboat entered the surf line and was broken apart by waves, forcing the crew to abandon the vessel. Six sailors were hoisted into the MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and taken to a hospital, where one man was pronounced dead, the Coast Guard said.

The accident occurred amid 8-foot swells and 10-knot winds.

--Tony Perry in San Diego