BODEGA BAY, Calif. >> A large wave capsized a fishing boat off the coast of Northern California Saturday, leaving four of the five people aboard dead, authorities said.
None of those aboard was wearing the life vests that were aboard the craft when they went into the 59-degree water, said Sgt. Cecile Focha of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department. One man survived by swimming to the shores of a rocky islet, where he was rescued by a helicopter crew.
"It’s such a tragedy, such a loss," Focha said.
A mariner reported the overturned boat near Bodega Bay, about 70 miles north of San Francisco, about 10 a.m.
The lone survivor, Phillip Sanchez, 66, of Bodega Bay, told rescuers that they were returning in the privately owned 32-foot boat on the opening day of crabbing season. Sanchez said he managed to swim through the 9-foot swells to Bodega Rock.
A Coast Guard boat retrieved the bodies of the four victims, three men and one woman. Three of the victims were identified late Saturday as Jessie Daniel Langley, 79, Samuel Garcia, 86, and David Costa, 60.
Langley and Garcia were described as colorful residents of Bodega Bay’s tight-knit fishing community.
"It’s just horrifying," Kelly Martin, manager of a local grocery store, told the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat. "We called Jessie Uncle Jessie. That’s how well we knew him. He was old-school hillbilly. Sam was the cranky crab guy. Everybody loved Sammy."