UPDATE: Mexican Navy Extends Search Effort for Missing Bay Area Men

Don Lee of San Ramon and Gene Leong of Dublin were on a fishing excursion with some friends when a sudden storm struck, sinking the boat in the middle of the night.

The Mexican Navy won't call off the search Thursday morning as originally planned, according to family of some of the men still lost at sea after their fishing boat capsized Sunday.

Also on Wedneday, Mexican authorities arrested the captain of the boat carrying dozens of American tourists that sunk when struck by a sudden storm, according to Frederick Han, son-in-law of 62-year-old San Ramon resident Don Lee, one of seven men who are missing in the Sea of Cortez.

"The captain wasn’t authorized to leave the dock because he was told there was going to be a storm that night," said Han. "So he went out there anyway and didn't tell anyone."

Han said the Mexican government has a 96-hour window to conduct such searches. His family is urging the country's Navy to extend the search beyond Thursday morning.

"We're getting a little more frazzled because we're pushing the end of that 96-hour window," Han told Patch on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, several local fishermen, some of them very poor, had volunteered in the search effort, friends of the family said. And a nearby church held a prayer meeting for the survivors.

, Han said. Already there are volunteers helping search efforts, but the family is ready to leave in an instant if they have to. They're also trying to recruit help from divers.

Han's wife, Mandi Lee-Han, is Lee's daughter. She's a teacher at a Montessori preschool in Livermore and a graduate of in San Ramon.

Lee and his friend Gene Leong of Dublin are among several men still lost after the chartered recreational fishing in the middle of the night Sunday.

There is one confirmed death: That of Leslie Yee, a 65-year-old retiree from Ceres.

The early morning storm flung 27 American tourists — the majority of them from the Bay Area — into the ocean. Yee's body was found on shore. He was a Chronicle employee for 37 years. He retired in 2009 from his position as transportation manager, according to the newspaper.

Lee organized the annual Fourth of July trip, according to his family. Several men were rescued by the Mexican Navy on July 4, among them Michael Ng of Belmont.

The chances of survival were initially reported to be good, with water temperatures in the 80s and nearby small islands within swimming distance.

News reports say the other men who are missing include Berkeley resident Brian Wong and his three brothers, Penngrove resident Russell Bautista, Mark Dorland from Twain Harte in Tuolumne County and Al Mein; Gene Leong of Dublin; and Shawn Chaddock.

The 115-foot boat, called Erik, was owned by Baja Sportfishing Inc., which has canceled future trips because of Sunday's wreck.

The California State Franchise Tax Board revoked the company's license to operate in California in 2001 when it failed to file tax returns, according to the Bay Area News Group. It later obtained another license to run out of San Diego under the name Baja Sportfishing and Diving, the newspaper says.

How to help: findourfathers.blogspot.com

List of survivors: Released here by the El Mexicano newspaper

Statement from the U.S. Coast Guard: uscgsandiego.com


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »