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Capsized sailboat in San Diego was on an outing for developmentally disabled people

Two men killed Sunday were identified as Chao Chen, 73, and his son, Jun, 48. Eight survivors were treated at hospitals; one is in critical condition. Investigators are looking into whether the boat was over its capacity.

March 29, 2011|By Richard Marosi, Los Angeles Times
  • At Shelter Island Boat Yard in San Diego, a man looks at the underside of the boat that capsized.
At Shelter Island Boat Yard in San Diego, a man looks at the underside of the… (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles…)

Reporting from San Diego — Two men who died in a boating accident in San Diego Bay over the weekend were identified as a father and son who were on an outing organized for developmentally disabled people, authorities said Monday.

All 10 aboard the 26-foot sailboat, including two children, were tossed into the frigid waters off Harbor Island on Sunday afternoon when the boat flipped over for reasons that have yet to be determined. 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 Department.

"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 wore life vests, though it is yet to be determined if the dead men were 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 is still under investigation, she said, and it appears that no other boats were involved.

Authorities are investigating whether the boat was over its capacity, Luque said. The outing was organized through an Indiana-based nonprofit organization, and two of the young adults aboard were developmentally disabled, Luque said.

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