Central Valley

Twain Harte man missing after boat capsizes in Mexico

A state police helicopter searches the waters of the Gulf of California for survivors of a capsized fishing boat near San Felipe, Mexico, Monday, July 4, 2011. A U.S. tourist died after a fishing boat capsized in an unexpected storm in the Gulf of California off the Baja California peninsula and of the 44 people on the boat, seven U.S. tourists remain missing along with one Mexican crew member, the Mexican navy said. (AP Photo/ Francisco Vega)
A state police helicopter searches the waters of the Gulf of California for survivors of a capsized fishing boat near San Felipe, Mexico, Monday, July 4, 2011. A U.S. tourist died after a fishing boat capsized in an unexpected storm in the Gulf of California off the Baja California peninsula and of the 44 people on the boat, seven U.S. tourists remain missing along with one Mexican crew member, the Mexican navy said. (AP Photo/ Francisco Vega) AP

TIJUANA, Mexico -- A Twain Harte man is among the seven U.S. tourists still missing after their fishing boat sank early Sunday in a flash storm in Mexico’s Gulf of California.

Two Sonora men are among the survivors. The three Toulumne County residents are friends. Authorities said one tourist died.

The Mexican navy said late Monday it will extend the search area for survivors, despite earlier reports they were considering turning their efforts to recovering bodies nearly two days after the accident.

Twain Harte resident Mark Dorland, 62, had not been found as of Monday night.

“We’re just hoping he was able to make it to shore somehow,” said Dorland’s daughter-in-law Agnes Dorland of Manteca. She said Mark Dorland was a retired commercial plumber, a good swimmer and an avid fisherman who had lived in Twain Harte about 22 years. “He went on this same trip last year.”

Friends Bob Higgins and Steven Sloneker of Sonora joined him on the weeklong trek, along with 24 fishing enthusiasts, many of them from Northern California.

The 115-foot vessel sunk about 2 a.m. Sunday. By Monday afternoon, one U.S. man’s body had been recovered, and 19 tourists had been rescued along with all 16 crew members.

The survivors clung to coolers, rescue rings and life vests for hours before being pulled out of the water.

Higgins’ fiancée, Pamela Hughes, said Monday that Higgins clung to an ice chest for about 12 hours until he was saved. Because it was the middle of the night, she said most of those aboard were not wearing life jackets.

“Everyone was just clinging to something,” she said.

Sloneker’s family declined to comment.

Names of the five other missing Americans have not been released by Mexican authorities.

“We are all just rallying for (Dorland) and the other men,” Hughes said.

Dorland’s family heard the upsetting news Monday morning.

“We just sit and hope and pray that he will come home safe,” said Dorland family friend Elyse Dunne. “(Monday) morning one of the people on the trip called and said he watched Mark go overboard.”

Dorland is engaged to Kristina Bronstein, and their wedding is planned for next month.

“I’m beyond concerned,” Bronstein said. She said the trip organizer’s wife told her Monday that Dorland was one of the first people to fall into the water. He wasn’t wearing a life vest.

The boat, called the Erik, sank about 60 miles south of port San Felipe. It capsized about two miles from shore.

Mexican navy Capt. Benjamin Pineda Gomez said he had no name or details about the man who died.

But he said with the warm weather and water temperature, it’s still possible the others missing are alive.

“A person who casts away can survive many days. That sea is calm,” he said.

Many of the Americans had made the trip before, eating gourmet dinners on board every night and coming home with ice chests full of fish.

Those rescued were in good condition with a few scrapes after bobbing in the intense sun and warm gulf waters. They were taken to a clinic for checkups, then to their hotel, authorities said. One diabetic survivor was taken to a naval hospital in San Felipe.

According to the Baja Sportsfishing Inc. Web site, the Erik has been on the Gulf of California, known in Mexico as the Sea of Cortez, since 1989. It was built in Holland and was equipped with stabilizers to handle the turbulent North Sea.

The California Secretary of State Web site says Baja Sportfishing’s business license has been suspended. It doesn’t state a reason or give a date.

“We have been working with Mexican navy authorities and the U.S. Coast Guard in the search and rescue,” Baja Sportfishing Inc. said in a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press. “Right now our main concern is making sure that everyone is accounted for.”

The company didn’t respond to an AP interview request. It said in an announcement posted on its Web site Monday afternoon that all trips have been canceled.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.Associated Press writers Olga R. Rodriguez in Mexico City, Paul Elias in San Francisco, California, and Phuong Le in Seattle, Washington, contributed to this report.

Read more: http://www.modbee.com/2011/07/04/1760748/1-dead-6-missing-after-boat-capsizes.html#ixzz1RChxN6vg

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