US Coast Guard calls off search for 7 missing men

Families upset to hear search was called off

July 13, 2011 12:17:17 AM PDT
The U.S. Coast Guard and the Mexican Navy have called off the search for seven missing men, six of them are from the greater Bay Area are now presumed dead, along with the seventh missing man. Their fishing tour boat sank in the Sea of Cortez a week ago Saturday.

The State Department delivered the news during a teleconference, on Tuesday, but family members of the missing say it left them asking more questions. They say they've gone from sad to frustrated, and now they're angry.

"We'd probably be dead in our sleep if he hadn't woke us up," said Craig Wong, the brother of missing fisherman Brian Wong.

Brian got his three brothers out of bed with only about 45 seconds before the fishing vessel sank. Brian is one of seven Northern California men missing, and on Tuesday his three brothers learned the search is being called off and there will be no dive to retrieve possible bodies.

Craig said he felt like "somebody pulled the life support machine from my brother. You know, when you stop the search and rescue, that's what it feels like to me."

May Lee says her family is angry. May is the wife of Don Lee who is also missing, says the Coast Guard showed them a search grid, covering 803 square miles, based on the ship's last location. Only problem is they said they aren't sure of the ship's last location.

The families also found out the Mexican Navy's sonar only had 150 feet of detection capability. The boat sank in waters at least 200 feet deep.

"The boat went down and I was hit by the water and I pushed myself off. Like I said, it happened really quick," said Craig.

Craig says there was no distress call and the crew never alerted the passengers.

"There were people saying they woke up only to find the crew all wearing brand new life jackets lined up," said Craig.

Government officials say it's over, but the families are pressing for a continued search and possible recovery from the sunken wreckage.

"I am doing my best to just remain as focused as I possibly can because I'm not giving up this fight. I am not giving up," said May.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Congressman Jerry McNerney's office said he and local congressional leaders are pressing the State Department to find the resources for a dive to the wreckage. If it doesn't happen, the family members of the missing say they're prepared to hold fundraisers and raise the estimated $300,000 needed for a private dive.

Load Comments