Reporting Andrea Menniti
SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Six men from our region went down when their fishing boat that capsized off the coast of Baja California. Rescuers have saved three of the men, but two are missing and a man from Ceres is now confirmed dead.
More than 40 people were on the boat and most have been rescued, but seven are still missing.
Late Tuesday afternoon the US Coast Guard confirmed the first local death: Leslie Yee from Ceres. Lee, a former San Francisco Chronicle circulation employee who retired in 2009, was traveling with friends from the bay area.
Families of the other missing men are holding out hope. The sons of a Tuolumne county man are in Mexico right now searching for their father.
The hardest part is not knowing, say family members.
“It’s awful,” said Sharren Mein, whose husband Al is missing. “I love him and I want him home. I don’t know what I’d do with out him…I don’t know.”
Once the family got the call, Al’s son headed to help.
“They are doing their own search. There are a lot of islands — very remote. They are going to try and find him on their own,” said Sharren.
Four Tuolumne County men were aboard the 115-foot charter boat when it sank off the Baja Coast in the Sea of Cortez, south of San Felipe on Sunday.
Al and Mark Dorland are still missing. A fisherman rescued Bob Higgins and the Mexican Navy found Steven Sloneker.
“He was in the water we think for about 15-20 hours. He’s really sunburned, sun stroked, and dehydrated,” said his son, Steven Sloneker Jr.
Steven says his father is resting in a San Felipe hotel waiting to drive back home. Only speaking for a few moments on the phone, he said he can’t wait to for his father to share what went wrong.
“It’s been a rough couple [of days],” said Steven. “It will be great to see my father.”
Al’s wife hopes that she too will have a happy ending.
“I feel bad about all the families involved and I want them all to come home, and needless to say most of all, my husband.”
The Mein family made fliers to put around the region of Mexico near where the boat went down.
One of the survivors, Bob Higgins, said he made it through by clinging to an ice chest for 12 hours until he was rescued by fishermen.
Some of the men who were rescued waited more than 15 hours to be pulled from the water.