Widow files suit in sailboat accident

July 10, 2008 5:58:59 PM PDT
A lawsuit has been filed over a deadly sailboating accident in the Gulf of Mexico by the family of a man who was hailed a hero for giving his life to save others on the boat.Roger Stone's family is suing the maker of the boat which capsized during a race last month. Stone's wife, Linda, filed the lawsuit.

Stone died last month while participating in a sailing race between Galveston and Veracruz. The 53-year-old Stone was the safety operator onboard the Texas A&M University sailboat called the Cynthia Woods. A few hours into the race, the boat's keel fell off, causing the boat to flip over. Stone died and his body was found inside the boat. Surviving crew members say Stone's last act was to push two crew members off the boat.

Cape Fear Yacht Works, LLC and Mr. Bruce Marek released a statement to Eyewitness News, saying, "Cape Fear Yacht Works, LLC and Mr. Bruce Marek are and have been cooperating fully with all local, state and federal investigative authorities as the investigation into the capsizing of the Cynthia Woods continues. All requested plans, blueprints, and photos were provided to the United States Coast Guard for its investigation."

The family wants answers as to why the keel fell off. They want to know if there was a design flaw. Was the boat properly manufactured? The family is saying the boat's designer, manufacturer and repair company has stopped cooperating.

"I'm mad. I'm mad at everybody. You know that is stages of grief. I am just mad at the universe. I want my husband back," said Linda.

"There was an inspection, a visual inspection actually done of this particular keel on June 5, so one day before the race and there were no obvious signs of cracks that were found on the keel," said Stone's attorney, Randall Sorrels. "As Ms. Stone so eloquently stated, keels do not just fall off boats."

The keel serves as a counter balance and without it the boat would tip over. The attorney alleges that the bolts that attach the keel to the boat were not attached to a crossbeam and were unable to support the 5,000 pound keel.

The attorney says he wants to confirm this allegation by seeing the test drawings and the design drawings that he says Cape Fear Yacht is not providing.

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