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Overturned Boat Kills Two During Sailing Trip for Disabled

Heart of Sailing board president John Shean said ten people were aboard the 26-foot 1988 MacGregor sailboat when it capsized.

MacGregor

Photo: Rory Devine

The sailboat involved in an accident on March 27 near Shelter Island. Source: Gust of Wind Flipped Sailboat: Charity | NBC San Diego

Investigators believe a sailboat accident in San Diego Bay that killed the uncle and grandfather of an 11-year-old autistic boy was caused by a wind gust. The boat overturned Sunday during an excursion arranged by a Bloomington, Indiana-based charity that provides sailing trips for people with disabilities.

Heart of Sailing board president John Shean said ten people were aboard the 26-foot 1988 MacGregor sailboat when it capsized.

“It’s my understanding, for instance, that the owners manual for this boat says nothing about weight or passenger limits,” said Shean.

Investigators said some of those 10 people aboard were not wearing life jackets, but California law only requires children to wear life preservers. Shean said he’s surprised by the accident.

“Not even the main sail was up,” said Shean. “Just the front sail, the jib. That’s another mysterious part of why this boat would capsize.”

73-year-old Chao Chen and his 48-year-old son, Jun Chen, died Sunday night. Heart of Sailing was founded six years ago in Bloomington to help people with disabilities like autism and down syndrome.

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