Findings into sailboat death released

December 19, 2008 10:48:57 AM PST
The Coast Guard has released the results of its investigation into the sinking of a sailboat donated to Texas A&M University.[SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

The "Cynthia Woods" lost its keel on June 6 during a race from Galveston to Mexico, killing a safety officer. Five others were rescued from the boat after spending 26 hours at sea.

The Coast Guard statement reported that the "Woods" lost its keel due to several groundings and "improper repairs prior to the capsizing of that vessel." The "Woods" was owned and operated by Texas A&M Galveston and the repairs were reportedly made by students who were not specifically qualified or trained to make those repairs.

"At no time did the sailboat manager who was overseeing the operation and repairs to the vessel did they consult with the vessel designer, manufacturer or a third party surveyor regarding this damage," said U.S. Coast Guard Commander Jim Elliot.

The man who perished in the sinking was 53-year-old Roger Stone who was trapped below deck as the boat flipped. Stone drowned but not before saving two of the students who were below with him. The five survivors clung to four life vests before being located.

The Coast Guard stated that part of the reason they had trouble finding the "Cynthia Woods" and crew was because the boat's emergency radio beacon was never turned on. Both the radio and the life raft were found later stowed below deck inside the boat.

The attorney for Stone's widow questioned both the validity and accuracy of the U.S. Coast Guard's findings saying it was both outsourced and rushed.

Billionaire developer George Mitchell donated the "Cynthia Woods" to Texas A&M in 2005. He's an alum who has donated millions of dollars to the school.

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