Person dead, another missing after boat found spinning out of control off N. California coast

EMBED </>More Videos

One person is dead, and crews were searching for a missing boater after a vessel was found spinning in circles out of control near Half Moon Bay Sunday afternoon. (KGO-TV)

It was a tragic day at sea near Half Moon Bay in northern California on Sunday.

One man is dead and the other is missing after they somehow fell overboard. It was a beautiful day and the waters were calm, so how the two men ended up in the ocean is a big mystery.

Their fishing boat was going in circles at a speed of 15 knots, alerting those nearby that something was wrong. It happened seven miles south of Half Moon Bay off Martin's Beach in San Mateo County.

"Once you lose control of the helm, boats are designed to circle," said Sgt. John Gonzales with the San Mateo County Sheriff's Department. "It's a steering mechanism. It kind of pulls forward. It pulls to the right or left and it will stay in that circle."

The boat was a Boston Whaler, a popular fishing vessel known for being stable and seaworthy. The body of one of the two men on board was recovered soon after rescue crews arrived. The other is still missing, identified as Tuan "Tom" Tran, who was believed to have been operating the boat. The Deputy Harbormaster believes neither was wearing a life jacket.

"I'm not sure if they would have survived in this situation," said Deputy Harbormaster Cary Smith. "But certainly they would have had their heads above water or long enough for somebody to have seen them."

Authorities let the boat run out of fuel. Deputies then towed it to Pillar Point Harbor. They're storing it as evidence, and while they're not ruling anything out, it doesn't appear foul play was involved.

"The boat has already done a preliminary look through," said Gonzales. "Everything looks fine. It really looks like an accident but we just want to double check to make sure everything is fine."

No word on how long they'll be searching for Tran.

The Coast Guard is working through the night and the Harbormaster plans to rejoin the effort in the morning.

Report a typo to the ABC13 staff
Related Topics:
boat accidentboatingboatscoast guardrescuemissing personwater rescuesearch and rescueu.s. & worldCalifornia
(Copyright ©2018 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)