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Posts Tagged ‘death’

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Screen Shot 2015-09-05 at 6.22.50 PMSir Robin Knox-Johnston’s Clipper Around the World Race has lost its first sailor; we just picked up the breaking news off the BBC that a crewmember aboard the IchorCoal entry died early this morning off the Portuguese coast.  Reports identify the UK’s Andrew Ashman as the crew on the Clipper 70 who was knocked unconscious ‘while trimming a sail’ on the highly loaded, heavily-laden boat, and whether it was a clew or a boom that struck him, he didn’t regain consciousness and the ‘race’ boat is diverting to Portugal to offload the body.

A past skipper of the race told us his only surprise is that it hasn’t happened sooner.  “Anyone who’s done the race will be reminding themselves of the number of unprepared skippers and crew they raced with and against,’ he said.

Our condolences to Ashman’s family and friends, and if you have loved ones on a Clipper boat, send an email to let them know you love ‘em. We’ll have more news as it develops.



September 5th, 2015 by admin

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Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 11.09.09 AMNot content with its ‘provocative policing practices‘ igniting the biggest period of civil unrest in America in half a century, the animals running the Missouri Department of Highway Patrol have finally been called to task by a Senator for the attempted cover-up of the killing of a college student on Lake of the Ozarks last year by a ‘marine trooper’, whatever the fuck that is.

You may remember this story from last June, when the actions of State Trooper Anthony Piercy caused the death of 20 year old Iowan Brandon Ellingson, who flipped out of the trooper’s patrol boat while handcuffed.  The cops’ incompetent handling of the MOB killed Ellingson, yet a questionable coroner’s inquest found no culpability on the part of Piercy, and the Trooper’s video recording system was conveniently “missing its memory card.”  In the meantime, Sargeant Randy Henry was demoted and disciplined by his supervisors for speaking out about the miscarriage of justice, and both Henry and the family of Ellingson are now in litigation with Missouri Highway Patrol over their mismanagement (and alleged corruption, report falsification, and deception).  Will the Senator’s power bring a change to yet another American police department with a record of killing the innocent? We’re not confident, but we encourage you to head over the Justice for Brandon Facebook Page to add your support, while telling America’s police agencies that they need to train their fucking water cops better or expect consequences.  Boaters’ lives matter, too.

Here’s the August report from WHOTV:

New allegations have surfaced that the investigation into the death of Brandon Ellingson may have been botched, and that there was a cover-up based on a favor owed among Missouri law enforcement.

Ellingson, who was a Clive resident, was arrested last year for drunken boating at the Lake of the Ozarks. He was handcuffed, and then fell out of a police boat. He drowned before the arresting officer could save him. The same officer admitted he put on Ellingson’s life jacket the wrong way.

Amanda Grellner was the special prosecutor. She investigated the case, but she never pressed any charges against that arresting officer.

Meanwhile, another trooper criticized the Missouri Highway Patrol over how the arrest was handled. Sgt. Randy Henry spoke out and was demoted. Henry hired an attorney and appealed that decision.

Now, Henry’s attorney says he has found another investigation that involved Grellner, which may have influenced the Ellingson investigation.

The attorney says there was a botched rape investigation involving Grellner’s son and claims there was a cover-up.

The attorney believes Ellingson’s death was never fully investigated. He says that was Grellner’s way of paying back the Missouri State Patrol. Grellner stepped down from the Ellingson case and a second prosecutor took over.

Props to NWA and Rage Against The Machine for the title inspiration.


September 3rd, 2015 by admin

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UPDATE: Associated Press reporter Stephen Wade did a little more digging after reading the SA piece below. His update is here.

You won’t see it in any official ISAF or IOC report, but the first major casualty (that we know about, anyway) of the Guanabara Bay pollution epidemic is now in a local hospital.  One of the top light-air RS:X specialists, Korean boardsailor Wonwoo Choo, was rushed to an ambulance yesterday afternoon with high fever, vomiting, chills, and dehydration.  More from “Danny OK”, and please share his post on the IOC and ISAF Facebook pages as many times as you can.  Only the most unrelenting pressure can force change against the tide of corruption, laziness, incompetence, and downright apathy, and only when Rio understands that this scandal may kill off what is left of their dwindling tourism industry will the local government do something about it.  Here’s Danny’s post:

More than 10 years of life-time effort can be destroyed in one day!  This is not an emergency situation, but it’s very disappointing.  He has been sick since last night with a high fever, vomiting and coldness, and he is now fully dehydrated.

It seems he got infected from virus somewhere in the racing site which is supposed to be safe and clean as an Olympic venue.  I hope this wouldn’t happen again not only for us, but for all sailors who compete on the same play ground.

Additionally, I hope IOC and ISAF must consider how the safety issue will be improved for the next year.

We may not able to clear all the issues, but we could minimize the risks.


August 19th, 2015 by admin

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Every few years, Lake Erie turns into a ferocious motherfucker during the Mills Trophy Race, the first of the big Great Lakes distance affairs, and this year was one of those.  A light air start was quickly forgotten when the front blew through with 20-40 knots from the ENE, and it didn’t take long for the infamously steep Erie waves to follow, line after line of angry soldier.  A sailor from a Melges 32 reported that the waves were ‘difficult, but avoidable’ until the sun set after the mid-afternoon start.  “It was a lot harder to avoid the big ones after dark,” he said.

Those waves caught out quite a few teams; check out the couple dozen DNFs up and down the fleet.  But one DNF turned fatal, when a sailor on Ken Sabin’s 35-year old wooden Mull one-tonner Horse went overboard in the dark night, and drowned.  And strangely, he wasn’t recovered by his team – he was found on shore near Ohio’s East Harbor State Park and recovered shortly after sunrise – some 6 hours after he got wet.  Authorities ID’d the sailor as Glen William Reeck, of Matlacha, Florida and drowning as the cause of death. Given the size of the waves reported and the 49 degree (F) temperature, not much of a surprise at all.

What is surprising is the complete lack of information regarding Mr. Reeck’s untimely departure from the good ship Horse.  Race Chairman Ron Soka ain’t talking, but there is plenty of chatter about the state of the old one-tonner on the dock before the race.  What really happened out there?  When we know, you’ll know.


June 7th, 2015 by admin

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Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 9.54.39 AMWe offer our condolences to everyone affected by the tragedy in Alabama.  Huge Kudos to logtime SA’er “Puffyjman” for keeping his head on during the bad, bad times on Mobile Bay.  Here’s his report, and there’s plenty more first-hand words in the thread.

We had just finished on a Tripp 26 and threw the kite up for the ride back to FYC when it hit us. According to the Ft Morgan weather station there was an initial gust of 62 followed by 20 min of 50 then over an hour where it was over 30. We were fortunate to have a boat full experienced sailors that didn’t panic and did what it took to secure the boat and ride the storm out.
When it had settled down we threw a blade up and proceeded to head to FYC when we spotted three sailors floating, we rescued them and had learned they were sailing a Cal 24 that turtled and sank. They were in the water for more then an hour and were in shock as they lost 2 crew to drowning. We got them safely back to FYC.

The sailors we rescued yesterday were all wearing PFDs, they stated that the two victims were also wearing PFDs. The chop on the bay was so incredibly steep that it may have contributed to them drowning as the water was constantly breaking over their heads. Ironically one overboard sailor survived a three hour ordeal without a PFD. I’m not advocating against wearing life jackets I’m just telling you what I know that happened yesterday.

My thoughts and prayers to the families of victims of this tragedy.


April 27th, 2015 by admin

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Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 9.06.50 PMRemember when our Senior Editor was the closest witness to a multiple-death boat crash this summer on the river in Michigan?  Well, apparently there is some justice in the world, and it also means Mr. Clean won’t have to answer that witness subpoena after all.

Brandon Verfaillie’s blood alcohol was over 0.1 more than an hour after the crash according to police, and he he allegedly pled guilty to two counts of operating a vessel while intoxicated causing death and one count of operating a vessel while intoxicated causing serious injury; the maximum combined time he can be sentenced is 35 years, and the judge will hand it down in January.

Verfaillie is also facing wrongful death and other lawsuits.  His life is mostly over, but not over as the two people he killed.  Thankfully, while it’s got its shortcomings, the system sometimes works.


December 9th, 2014 by admin

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crimesceneQuestion Of The Week

I am in boat looking mode. Without getting specific, would you buy a boat if her owner was murdered on board?” -SA’er ‘kidkodine.’

Best answer so far: “Is the killer still aboard?”

Supply your own response – a real one or yet another horribly morbid joke – here.


October 8th, 2014 by admin

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Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 4.53.24 AMWe’re fortunate to have made some very intelligent friends over the decade or so we’ve been working for Sailing Anarchy, and when they ask us serious questions about our reporting, we listen.  So when we  got an email a couple of months ago about the tone of some of our America’s Cup editorials from one of the top people at a highly respected team, our ears perked up – partly because this dude is almost frighteningly smart and extremely respectful, and partly because his questions were reasonable and not defensive.  He agreed that much of our criticism of the ridiculous delays and the lack of transparency in the AC was accurate, but asked me if ‘killing the event with negativity is really a step forward?’  He also challenged me to ‘explain what changes in the AC would encourage us that things are changing?’

With the full competitor lineup about to be released during today’s dog-and-pony in London, it’s time for me to answer his questions.

Q) Is negative criticism or ‘killing the event with negativity’ a step forward?

A) Whether criticism is a ‘step forward’ is irrelevant; we don’t work for the America’s Cup and we have no duty to ‘move the AC forward’; this is similar to the criticism we’ve gotten for writing about regattas that allow littering in the sea and for writing about classes that are being run into the ground, and our answer is always the same:  We are firm believers in transparency, and to us, letting the sailing public know what is really going on behind the scenes is always a step forward, especially over the long term, and even more especially when reality is shrouded in secrecy and bullshit.

We advocated for and applauded the move to catamarans when the majority of the world’s sailing publications were shrieking tradition and sacrilege – actually, we’ve been asking for it since about 2003.  We approved of the format for AC34 and prayed for a great venue like San Francisco.  And we lauded the beautifully sorted and widely available coverage for the most exciting regatta in sailing history.  But we could not remain quiet in the face of the mounting fuckups while ACAlphabet paraded their stunning incompetence in front of the world.  That’s what the other publications did, and if no one questions the bullshit, it will always be repeated.  We’d prefer not to see an AC35 with the same problems as AC34: Woefully low North American ratings and broadcast pickup, failure to meet any of the in-person audience/SF occupancy/ACOC sponsorship raising goals,  a fatal accident whose cause has – until today – still not been properly reported on, safety rules that changed the outcome of the event, and a venue that feels lied to and abused by the sport of sailing.

What my friend was really asking was “do we understand that our negativism is actually hurting the America’s Cup?”  My answer is very simple: That’s not our problem.  We didn’t cheat.  We didn’t fuck up the broadcast deal.  We didn’t cut the promotional budget to pieces halfway through the cycle.  We didn’t make up a bunch of ridiculous projections for the SF government and fail to get close to them..  And we certainly didn’t cover up the cause of death of a famous sailor.  So quit blaming us.

Q) What moves would encourage you that things are changing?

A) As we’ve said ten million times, lack of transparency is one of the sport’s biggest problems.  It’s got its own language, complicated and esoteric rules, centuries of history and tradition, and is mostly run – at least in America – by a cultish bunch of odd rich people in archaic clothing.  AC33 had the potential to change all that in huge ways, yet it failed spectacularly, and somehow, the guy responsible has never even acknowledged his abject failure or explained how he will prevent the exact same failures from happening again.  That’s what we would need to see in order to think about getting behind the next AC – a little openness and honesty instead of the same old back room deals that have governed the America’s Cup for a century.  So when you are watching the press conference today, consider the following questions that we’d like answered; get us that, and we’ll believe that times are changing.  And consider the fact that, for four years, Russell Coutts has consistently refused to sit down for an interview with the world’s most widely read sailing website.  There’s only one explanation for that: Fear.


As we’ve said over and over, we’re not at all happy that there still has not been a single official comment on the cause of the accident that led to Andrew Simpson’s death, and we frankly don’t understand it.  We remember Formula 1 legend Ayrton Senna’s death all too well, and while the public investigation process was not an easy one, it’s amazing to us that AC organizers did not insist on even the most basic investigation or transparency for Andrew Simpson’s cause of death.  The Senna case resulted in a finding against Williams co-founder Patrick Head after a massive investigation that included a 600-page analysis of the crash; while Head would never go to jail for his ‘omitted control’ culpability, at least the Italian courts provided closure for hundreds of millions of Senna fans around the world.

We know that Artemis Racing conducted their own investigation into Simpson’s death, yet no one we’ve met will admit to seeing it.  We know the Coast Guard had a think about it too.  And we know that the San Francisco police are required to investigate any death.  Yet when we asked the America’s Cup where those documents were, they had no answer, and that’s ridiculous.  These reports should have been required by ACRM to be released to the public, and an open inquiry into the design, build, and management of Big Red – and the responsibility for her failure – should have been undergone immediately after the accident.  We don’t blame Artemis for the silence – they have good reason to be quiet.  But the event’s organizers have a duty to do more if they want to be considered anything but a failure and a joke.

We hate that we’ve had to, but we’ve done a pile of sleuthing ourselves, and thanks to Johntommy Rosas and the America’s Cup Trust, we finally got our hands on the SFPD’s official 86-page investigation into the Artemis accident, and for the first time today, we’re sharing it with the world. We’ll leave the conclusions to you guys, but it’s not brain surgery; as we all knew when he loudly acted like he never said it, Nathan Outteridge’s words to his dad were pretty accurate –  the boat ‘folded like a taco’ when it dug the hull in during a bearaway.  There wasn’t a pitchpole – according to Artemis design coordinator Adam May’s witness statement, the hull failed.  Why did it fail?  Is anyone responsible, as they were for Senna, or was it just a non-racing ‘racing incident’?  We don’t know, but if the America’s Cup is to be the ‘tier 1 sport’ that Coutts, Ellison, and new AC Commercial Commissioner Dr. Harvey have repeatedly claimed is their goal, it’s time to act like a tier 1 sport, where you investigate deaths and hold people accountable for them.

Until then, the only place in the world you can find the investigation report is right here.  Warning: It’s not for the faint of heart.

Why Did AC34 Miss Every Media/Comms/Audience Target?

We’re not going to re-hash this one – we’ve done it too many times.  The dismal ratings are public knowledge, as was NBC’s refusal to pick up the final races for a national broadcast audience – even when the comeback was in full swing.  But Russell Coutts has somehow not been called to the carpet to explain this abject failure.  Were they the wrong targets?  Is it impossible to make sailing a mainstream sport in America?  We’d all like to know.

What Happened To Continuity?

Coutts told us a dozen times that one of the AC’s big issues is continuity; that it’s incredibly tough to run a commercially viable sports league when it isn’t owned by a reliable group.  This is surely true, and Coutts’ solution the last time around was a financial windfall of several million dollars for the winner of the AC if they maintained some part of the AC event management structure he planned in AC34.

Yet when Oracle won, there was no continuity.  Near as we can tell, there was no management; just Russell and a couple of trusted advisors secretly shopping venues around and trying to create a bit of a bidding war.  The incredible action we saw in San Francisco?  Forgotten.  The ‘reliable pro-sports league’?  Gone.  Instead we have a year of silence while all the excitement fades into the background, and we’re right back on the same old Coutts train.  And we’d like to get off it.

If you would too, start asking the AC folks the same questions we have, and don’t let up. Hit them over here and over here.  If Russell Coutts or his new commercial chief are serious about what they claim, they’ll answer.

But if all the talk is bullshit and smokescreen, designed to cover up the fact that Coutts’ job is really to win the Cup and neither he nor Larry gives a shit about the rest of it, they’ll continue to say nothing, admit nothing, and accomplish nothing – besides retaining the Cup, of course.


September 9th, 2014 by admin

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Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 8.49.13 AMIn heartbreaking news from England’s South Coast, the body of one of Britain’s top young sailors was found late last week near a car park in the New Forest.  17 year-old Jess Eales uploaded the pic you see at left to Facebook just hours before her death, which neither police nor coroners have explained, though news reports say they are not treating it as suspicious.  There are only a few scenarios where a dead 17-year old in a car park in a forest isn’t suspicious, but it shouldn’t be long before we all know more so we’ll just keep our mouths shut until the government has a chance to explain.  Jess had celebrated her 17th birthday the day before she was found.

Jess had just returned from the Youth Worlds in Portugal, a rising star in skiffs and cats.  We’re told her sailing circles in the Lymington and Hayling Island communities are in shock; despite not knowing Jess, we’re pretty shocked too.  This shit isn’t supposed to happen to 17 year olds.

We will update you when there is more information available.  Until then, share your thoughts in the thread.  As for the title, it’s rare that Morrissey and sailing ever mix, but there’s a first time for everything.  NOTE: Don’t click if you don’t want to be even more depressed. It’s a Smiths song, after all.


August 5th, 2014 by admin

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Just two hours before some of the the Cal 25 Nationals fleet would sail through the same spot on the way back to Bayview Yacht Club from Port Huron, MI, our own Mr. Clean was on hand to witness a horrific accident in the St. Clair River.  While a picture may say a thousand words, this was a truly bizarre one, and we go to Clean for more on yet another big summer boating accident.  The lesson to sailors? Never stop scanning your horizon for the marine environment’s real killers: Go-fasts with drunken idiots behind the wheel.

In a lifetime on the water, I’ve never seen anything quite so nasty happen, and I just happened to have a front row seat.   Remember when that moron in the speedboat on the Lake of the Ozarks caught a wake at speed and nearly flipped, beating the hell out of the occupants?

We had a similar situation here last night but with much worse consequences, when a  25 or 30 foot Baja cigarette-style boat, running at least 50 mph, decided to go through the wake of a big Bayliner cabin cruiser without throttling back, and at a terrible angle.  I happened to be less than 200 feet from it all; having slowed down for the Bayliner’s wake, I saw the speedboat approaching at mach 2 and decided to watch the action, actually saying to myself, out loud, “This is gonna be good.”

It wasn’t.

The Baja caught the first wave and got heeled to the left in the air, then caught the second at a worse angle, which launched it back in the air, now with 20 or more degrees of heel to the right.  By this time, even if the driver were still hanging on to the wheel, he was just along for the ride.  The Baja hit the third wave at a terrible angle – the boat was bow-up and heeled hard to the right when it hit – and it literally launched itself completely clear of the water by 4-6 feet – aimed directly at the Bayliner’s flying bridge.  The heel on the Baja had rounded the boat up on the final wave, turning it to the left instead of straight through as intended by the driver.   The Baja didn’t so much hit the Bayliner (and the six people on the bridge) as landed on top of it, then continued over it, and landed in the river.  The entire upper deck of the Bayliner was torn off its supports, and barely remained connected to the main deck by a few hoses and wires.

After calling 911, I moved.  The Baja was between the cruiser and me, so I snapped a pic of the culprits to make sure no one made a run for it.  They were pretty shaken up, and responded that ‘everyone’s fine’ when asked.  I gunned it over to the stricken vessel, and they were shouting that there was someone in the water.  As I searched downriver and mentally tried to figure out how much water had moved in the 5 minutes since impact, (there is 2-3 knots of current in the river at this point), I kept yelling for every boat I saw to join in the search.  Shortly thereafter, with more than a dozen boats now on scene helping out (but still no official help) a woman’s body was pulled out by a pontoon boat, and 20 minutes of CPR didn’t help her.

As the body was pulled from the water, I noticed the Baja drifting downriver, nearly out of sight.  As I headed back to them, a crowd hollered at me on shore, and I ran over to a house to pick up the local Fire Chief, who I dropped off on the Bayliner to help with the rescue.  As I handed him off, I saw the second body in what used to be the cockpit of the boat – a man in his 50s – also unresponsive after a few minutes of CPR.  A third casualty – a woman in her 60s – looked to be going into shock, or cardiac arrest, or both.

I hung around for long enough to see the freighter traffic start to idle through the channel again, as it just didn’t seem right to buzz over to the lake and go fishing after the carnage I’d just witnessed.  After giving my number and info to the Marine Police and USCG as a witness, I overheard the Sheriff who had the Baja’s driver in custody talking to the neighboring police boat.  ”You take the statements from the passengers; I’m taking this one in.”  I couldn’t hear the next question from the deputy, but the Sheriff’s response made that clear.  ”Yep, he’s been drinking.”

It’s unlikely that a sober Baja driver would have done any better in that situation, but that’s not the issue.  A sober person – at least one with an IQ over 50 – would never have taken that wake at that speed.  Once again, the equation holds: Horsepower + (Alcohol OR Youth) + Inexperience = Death.

Title comes from one of the 80′s best cult films, also about a river, death, and stupid people.


August 4th, 2014 by admin

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