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Coast Guard investigating whether collision demolished boat where body found off Jacksonville | jacksonville.com
Coast Guard investigating whether collision demolished boat where body found off Jacksonville
By Dana Treen
A 50-foot Hatteras found demolished offshore
Sunday may have been destroyed in a collision with a larger ship, a possibility being investigated by the Coast Guard.
Chong K. Lum, a Venezuelan in his mid-30s, bought the boat in South Carolina and was sailing south with friends.
said investigators have told them they are checking ship traffic that was in the sea lanes near where the wreckage and the body of one passenger were found.
Lum, another companion and an unidentified American captain
have not been found. A fourth man who was supposed to travel with the others to Venezuela
on the boat flew home instead.
Allen Hill, whose wife is a cousin of Lum’s, said there was an emergency
beacon on the boat but it never activated. The family was told the Coast Guard recovered a flying bridge and boat deck from the debris field in the Atlantic Ocean
22 miles east of Jacksonville. The wreckage was discovered by a Florida Fish
and Wildlife Conservation Commission research
“So whatever happened was quick,” Hill said. “The boat wasn’t sinking or taking on water
The Coast Guard recovered the body of Guillermo Gonzalez Losada, 49, and 10 floating life vests. Losada, whose passport was found, was not wearing a vest.
“I don’t think there was any foul play indicated,” Hill said.
The Coast Guard’s investigative unit in Miami has taken over the case and will check ship traffic and the possibility that a collision with a large commercial
freighter occurred, said Petty Officer Third Class Jessica Potter, a spokeswoman for the service
“That’s definitely one of the possibilities,” she said.
The boat was a 1981 Hatteras convertible named On The Way and bought in North Myrtle Beach, Lum’s family said. Potter said the Coast Guard has not been able to identify an American captain who was on board.
The search for survivors was suspended after more than 50 hours of patrolling with cutters, other boats and aircraft.
Hill, who served five years in the Coast Guard, said the family would like the search to continue.
“It’s like any family; they are going to want more,” he said. “Nobody wants to give up hope.”
He said he understands the search can only go on for so long. Hill said he was told Losada died of hypothermia in the water
Lum is an industrial engineer
whose family business worked with Ingersoll-Rand. Lum is married with two daughters and a son, ages 23 months to 13 years.
An experienced boater who owned another yacht in the past, Lum sailed weekly to Aruba
, where the family has a house.
In an email
from Sergio Molina, a friend of those on the boat, said the third Venezuelan on the boat was Victor Caridad. Molina believed they were in Jacksonville on Friday.
Another friend, Ymad Channan, said in an email
message he was a member
of a yacht club with Lum and the others in Punto Fijo, Venezuela. He said the boat was headed to Miami, then on to what he called a “dream trip” to Aruba
and the Bahamas
and other islands.
“Their only sin was that they loved boating
, they loved sport fishing
, and they loved the sea, loved it so much ’til they ended in the ocean,” he said.