It is likely the four sailors aboard the Aegean – a yacht that was racing over the weekend in the — were not wearing life jackets when their yacht took a deadly turn off the shore of northern Mexico.
Some media outlets have reported that the Aegean crewmen were not wearing flotation devices when authorities say the yacht may have collided with an unidentified vessel, but an official with the U.S. Coast Guard told Patch that report could not be verified.
“It is required practice to have life vests for everyone on board, but they are not required to wear them at all times,” Henry Dunphy, a Coast Guard spokesman, said Monday. "As far as if they were wearing life jackets when it happened, that cannot be confirmed at this time."
The claimed the lives of sailors William Reed Johnson Jr., 57, of Torrance, and Joseph Lester Stewart, 64, of Bradenton, Fla., the San Diego County Coroner reported. Friends told Patch that the third crewman who perished was Kevin Rudolph, a Los Angeles area resident. Their bodies were recovered by civilian and helicopter crews on Saturday morning in a debris field in the Pacific Ocean, officials said.
The fourth crewman was Theo Mavromatis, the 37-foot Aegean's skipper, according to Ray Pollock of Marina Sailing, which rents out the boat for Mavromatis. On Sunday afternoon the U.S. Coast Guard officials suspended the search for the missing sailor after search crews spent the weekend examining more than 600 square miles, the Coast Guard reported.
The investigation into what caused Saturday's deadly crash remains underway today. It is believed that the Aegean collided with a larger vessel in the dark of night.
“Investigators are looking into that possibility, but at this point it's pretty much conjecture," Dunphy said.
The Coast Guard is in the process of reviewing the Automated Identification System, which is used to track large ships.
"It lets people track them from shore and shows others vessels on the water," Dunphy explained. "So investigators are looking at the system to see who was in the area at the time as well as talking to others who may have seen something."
Eric Lamb, who was hired to do private safety for the 124 miles of the Lexus Newport to Ensenada Yacht Race, was the first person to discover the Aegean's remains and flagged the Coast Guard to the deadly scene.