U.S. Coast Guard now investigates death of Tall Ship Elissa volunteer after police declared accident

GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The U.S. Coast Guard is now investigating the death of a volunteer who fell more than 35 feet on the historic Tall Ship Elissa in the Port of Galveston, after police declared her death as an accident.

Jill Victor's lifelong friends remember her as a sports fan, a deeply devoted churchgoer, and a passionate quilter.

ORIGINAL REPORT: Clear Lake woman dies after falling 35 feet off mast of historic tall ship ELISSA in Galveston

Victor's friends say she partially retired recently and volunteered on the Tall Ship Elissa for about a year.

Port of Galveston Police say the 58-year-old was wearing a climbing harness when she fell 35 feet from Elissa, but her harness did not appear to be actually tethered to the ship.

Experts say depending on what she was doing on that part of the ship, that doesn't mean she was breaking safety protocol.

Victor's volunteer position required multiple tests and more than 20 hours of training.

SEE RELATED: Travel back in time on the 1877 Tall Ship ELISSA

Galveston Historical Foundation released the following statement:

"Galveston Historical Foundation (GHF) board, staff and the volunteer crew of ELISSA are saddened at the loss of a fellow volunteer and staff member. The accident is still under investigation by authorities and GHF is conducting its own internal review.

Elissa is a crew of dedicated men and women who operate the ship with passion and dedication. We extend our condolences to the crew member's family and friends.

Elissa is one of the few historic tall ships in the world that still sails. Volunteers are trained under an extensive program. Galveston Historical Foundation rescued the 1877 tall ship in the 1970s from a shipyard in Greece and restored it for sailing and as a visitor attraction at Pier 22. The vessel is maintained and interpreted by volunteers and staff and undergoes routine inspections by the US Coast Guard as a Sailing School Vessel and a periodic required drydock.

GHF is a 501(c )3 non-profit organization founded in 1871 as the Historical Society of Galveston that merged in 1958 with another entity to become the Galveston Historical Foundation. The organization owns and operates more than twenty historic sites and vessels. Its mission is to preserve the history, architecture, and maritime history of Galveston Island."

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