NOVATO (KCBS) – Some of the Bay Area survivors of the ill-fated tourist fishing boat that sunk in the Sea of Cortez Sunday have returned home.
Lee Ikegami and Michael Ng were returning from the Mexican port of San Felipe only days after their 115-foot boat, the Erik, capsized. The search continues for seven men who are still missing.
Baja California state and Navy officials have extended rescue efforts, pushing the search past the standard 96 hours.
Several Bay Area members of Congress and both of California’s U.S. Senators wrote Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the US Coast Guard urging the search be extended for another week.
Fredrick Han, the son-in-law of missing fisherman Don Lee of San Ramon, said relatives of the missing men pleaded with authorities for a dive team to get involved.
“Because of the nature of the depth and what’s involved, they really needed to plan it out,” Han said.
United States officials and the Mexican Navy continue to coordinate rescue efforts. A U.S. Coast Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft searched a 300-square mile area of the Sea of Cortez but couldn’t find any trace of the men.
“We are preparing ourselves for the eventuality that they may find something there, but at the same time it would help bring closure for us to understand whether anyone who didn’t make it off the boat might be there,” Han said.
A sudden storm struck early Sunday, capsizing the vessel. The crew and the fishermen clung to coolers, rescue rings and life vests for more than 16 hours.
Some of the survivors have been critical of the captain saying he could’ve done more to save lives. Another survivor said all of the crew members had new life jackets on, but they had to scramble to get their own life floatation devices on.
KCBS’ Chris Filippi Reports:
The navy and other fishing boats pulled 19 fishermen and all 16 crew members from the water late Sunday. The vessel sank about 60 miles south of San Felipe.
Most of the 27 U.S. tourists on board the ship were Northern California men who traveled to the gulf for an annual Independence Day fishing trip.
Sixteen of the 19 tourists on the boat, who were rescued, returned to the United States Thursday.
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