In April we shared news of a San Diego boating accident that ended with the loss of two family members. The family had gathered for a cruise of the harbor as part of the Heart of Sailing Foundation's program for individuals with special needs. Part way through the excursion the boat overturned, some say due to a heavy gust of wind, and everyone in the boat was thrown in to the water. Xingchao Chen, 73, and his son Jun Chen, 44, drowned before rescuers had the opportunity to pull them from the water. Harbor Police have been investigating causes for the fatal accident.
The Police have ended their investigation and the District Attorney has decided not to file criminal charges against the sailboat operator and founder of Heart of Sailing nonprofit agency George Saidah. Investigators determined that the main causes for the boat overturning were due to overcrowding which led to poorly distributed weight throughout the boat leaving it susceptible to capsizing. The boat did not appear to be properly maintained either, Harbor Police noted that the sail was being held together by staples and duct tape. These findings do not contribute to criminal charges, according to Harbor Police, but investigators did note that all individuals on boats should wear personal flotation devices or have them readily available.
Now that the criminal investigation has come to a close the attorney hired by the Chen family will be able to conduct an investigation with his private team of experts. David Casey, the attorney, expects to take a close look at the vessel, its design, how it was operated the day of the accident and see what conclusions can be drawn to assist the Chen family in recuperating from their loss. The Chen family is expected to file a civil lawsuit by the end of the summer.