One Dead and One Missing After Boat Found Spinning Off California Coast

November 20, 2017 Updated: November 20, 2017

One person was found dead and another is still missing after first responders found a motorboat spinning in circles off the coast of California on Sunday.

Authorities identified Tuan “Tom” Tran as the missing man, Fox News reported. Meanwhile, the identity of the deceased person has not yet been released. Both were somehow thrown overboard, authorities believe.

The boat was spinning around in circles at 15 knots 7 miles south of Half Moon Bay, ABC7 reported. Those who saw the vessel alerted Pillar Point Harbor personnel that in turn contacted the Coast Guard at approximately 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 19.

“Once you lose control of the helm, boats are designed to circle,” Sgt. John Gonzales of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department told ABC7. “It’s a steering mechanism. It kind of pulls forward. It pulls to the right or left and it will stay in that circle.”

The Coast Guard waited for the boat to run out of fuel and then safely approached it. Deputies with the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department then towed it to shore.

The 17-foot boat is a Boston Whaler, a popular fishing vessel with a reputation for stability.

Rescue personnel found the body of the victim shortly after arriving on the scene. Tran, who is still missing, is believed to have operated the vessel. Neither of the people on board wore a life preserver, according to Deputy Harbormaster Cary Smith

“I’m not sure if they would have survived in this situation,” said Smith. “But certainly they would have had their heads above water or long enough for somebody to have seen them.”

Authorities are storing the boat for evidence. Although they are not ruling it out, foul play is not suspected.

“The boat has already done a preliminary look through,” said Gonzales. “Everything looks fine. It really looks like an accident but we just want to double check to make sure everything is fine.”

The Coast Guard worked through the night on Sunday to look for Tran. The Harbormaster rejoined the effort in the morning. A 47-foot motor lifeboat, a helicopter, and two Coast Guard cutters were called in to aid in the search, according to a press release from the Coast Guard.

It is still unclear how long they will spend looking for Tran.

General area 8 miles south of Half Moon Bay. (Google Maps)

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