1 dead, 4 missing after yacht runs aground

April 15, 2012 6:25:52 PM PDT
Military helicopters and boats are searching the waters outside the Golden Gate hoping to find four sailors from a racing yacht that struck rocks Saturday near the Farallon Islands.

Time is critical. The Coast Guard says conditions are pretty rough and the temperature of the water is only 50 degrees.

The Coast Guard says there were a total of eight people on board when a large wave knocked four of them into the ocean. When the rest of the crew turned the boat around to try and rescue them, they encountered another large wave which ultimately ran the boat aground.

So far, there are only three known survivors. The Coast Guard has already recovered one body from the water and they continue to look for the four who are still missing.

Three helicopters, two patrol boats, a cutter and a C-130 airplane are involved in the search. The Coast Guard says the search will continue at least until the sun goes down. They will then reevaluate and decide where to go from there.

"Over time and because of the conditions offshore, the search area rapidly expands and so being able to cover all that area takes a lot of resources," said Lt. Comm. Matt Rudick of the U.S. Coast Guard.

The yacht that ran aground is called the Low Speed Chase. Many of the people aboard the 39-foot boat are members of the San Francisco Yacht Club.

Marc Kasanin, 41, was killed in the crash. Friends who knew him well say he loved being out on the water. His body was recovered by an Air National Guard Black Hawk crew Saturday. His death makes the accident the worst tragedy in the history of the San Francisco Yacht Club.

"An event like this that happens of this magnitude is going to hit every sailor and every racer right in the heart," said San Francisco Yacht Club Director Ed Lynch.

With people still missing, there's the possibility that the tragedy could get worse. Among the missing are Alexis T. Busch -- the only woman aboard the eight-person crew of the Low Speed Chase -- and 25-year-old Jordan Fromm who lives in San Rafael.

Fromm and Busch were thrown overboard along with Alan Cahill and Elmer Morrissey.

Three others were rescued by Coast Guard and Air National Guard helicopters Saturday. Those saved include the yacht's skipper, 41-year-old James Bradford, and crew members Nick Voss and Brian Chong.

The Full Crew Farallones race is a 48-mile ocean race that has been held annually for more than 100 years. This year's race began at 9:45 Saturday morning. Some 61 boats are taking part in the race, which begins near San Francisco's Aquatic Park and rounds the Farallon Islands before returning to San Francisco's waterfront.

The Coast Guard rescue is the second one this month off the California coast. On April 2, the Coast Guard rescued two injured crew members after a yacht was crippled by a large wave during a storm. The 68-foot Geraldton Western Australia was competing in the Clipper 11-12 Round the World yacht race.

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