Captain and crew blamed in charter sinking

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In a letter sent to Mexico's secretary of communications and transportation, U.S. Coast Guard officials agreed with the conclusions of Mexican investigators that the owner and crew of a 115-foot Mexican charter fishing vessel that sank in the Sea of Cortez two years ago were negligent.

All 17 Mexican crewmembers survived the capsizing and sinking of the Erik, but eight of the 27 U.S. fishermen drowned.

Mexican officials said "major modifications" made the boat unstable. They also blamed the crew and captain for failing to issue safety instructions to passengers. The captain additionally failed to order everyone to abandon ship when it became obvious that the boat was sinking.

"That's pretty accurate," Robert Higgins of Sonora, Calif., who survived the ill-fated fishing trip, told the Modesto (Calif.) Bee.

Click here for the full report and click here for a July 2011 story in USA Today for a survivor’s account.

In a related story, Californian Joe Jacinto didn’t like the idea of his stepfather’s body remaining 160 feet below the surface of the Sea of Cortez inside the shipwreck of Erik. So he hired some divers and, after dealing with the Mexican authorities, Jacinto brought him back up.

Click here for a photo slideshow by the Mercury News.

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