The U.S. Coast Guard on Monday concurred with an investigation by Mexican authorities which found negligence on the part of the owner and crew of the Erik, a fishing boat that sank in the Sea of Cortez on July 3, 2011, resulting in the deaths of eight Northern California men.
"I applaud your ongoing efforts to hold the master and crew of the Erik accountable for their actions," read a cover letter to the Coast Guard review on which the names of the author and recipient were redacted.
"That doesn't bring them back," said a sobbing Elsie Wong, of Berkeley, whose husband Brian Wong perished in the accident.
Forty-three people, 27 of them U.S. passengers, were aboard the Erik when it departed the Port of San Felipe on July 2, 2011, on a recreational fishing trip. The ship sank in stormy weather at approximately 1:30-2:30 a.m. the next morning.
Eight passengers, all Americans, were lost. The body of Leslie Yee, of Ceres, has been recovered and identified. The other men are Al Mein, of Twain Harte; Don Lee, of San Ramon; Gene Leong, of Dublin; Brian Wong, of Berkeley; Shawn Chaddock, of Petaluma; Russell Bautista, of Penngrove; and Mark Dorland, of Twain Harte. Some remains have been found at the wreck site.
Specifically the Coast Guard agreed with the findings by Mexico's Secretary of Communications and Transportation that:
Major modifications to the Erik changed the vessel's "stability calculations" and "watertight integrity."
The "master and the crew failed to properly provide a safety orientation to the passengers."
No abandon ship plan was executed when it was obvious the ship was compromised.
The vessel sank "due to loss of buoyancy and stability."
And "the Captain of the Port San Felipe failed to apply its jurisdiction to verify compliance for all major modifications on the ... Erik."
The Coast Guard cover letter commended the Mexican investigation, which was completed in early March, for having "a significant impact for the increased safety of passengers aboard Mexican passenger vessels."
Contact Gary Peterson at 925-952-5053. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/garyscribe.