Memorial held for casualty in capsized boat incident

July 13, 2011 7:06:44 PM PDT
There was a tearful goodbye today to a Bay Area fisherman who lost his life after a charter baot sank in the Sea of Cortez.

Leslie Yee is the only person in the group whose body was found after the accident during the Fourth of July weekend. Seven other California men are still listed as missing.

Yee's son said his father lived for about 15 hours after the boat went down, holding on to a cooler with two other survivors. At some point, the exhaustion proved to be too much.

Yee, who was 63, worked hard as a San Francisco Chronicle deliveryman for 37 years. His family had to convince him to take a break and go on a July 4 holiday weekend fishing trip with his friends. Yee would not return from the trip.

"He probably wouldn't like all this big commotion about him," Yee's son Bruce Yee said. "He was a humble guy, well-respected within all his family and friends."

At his memorial service on Wednesday, family and friends said he was passionate about many things, including the San Francisco Giants, the San Francisco 49ers and fishing.

"He loved his family, and there wasn't anything that he wouldn't do for them," Bobbie Lowe said. "We will remember him as the guy who was very witty, but yet showed a lot of compassion for people."

Yee was among 43 other tourists and crew on-board a fishing charter that sank in Mexico's Sea of Cortez. The boat went down quickly and without warning after being hit by a rogue wave at about 2 a.m. on July 3.

Seven men, mostly from Northern California, are still missing.

Gary Wong said he last saw his brother Brian holding on to a railing as the boat was sucked underwater, and Wong was also suddenly underwater with only one thought:

"If I don't get to the surface, I'm gonna die," Wong said. "That's the last thing I was thinking. It felt like a lifetime before I got to the surface. I had no life vest on. Brian at least had a life vest, I saw that."

The U.S. Coast Guard officially called off the search on Tuesday.

"Hearing the news that the search and rescue is stopped as of yesterday is like having a loved one on life support, and somebody pulling the plug."

Families of the missing men are still hoping U.S. Government divers or a private team will go to Mexico to search for the wreckage and any bodies that might be with it. They point out that at least two of the missing men are U.S. Military veterans who would want to be brought back to their home country as well as their families.


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