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Report: Yacht’s Deadly Collision May Have Been With Island, Not Another Ship

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SAN DIEGO (CBS) — A website that tracks boats by GPS shows that a yacht mysteriously destroyed during a Pacific Ocean race left a track landing on the rocky shore of an island off Mexico’s northern coast.

Spot LLC’s GPS report potentially undercuts the theory of a collision with a ship.

“Ultimately, they’ll have to find some sort of evidence of the boat to prove that theory,” said Brad Avery, director of The School of Sailing & Seamanship at Orange Coast College.

aegean gps track Report: Yachts Deadly Collision May Have Been With Island, Not Another Ship

(credit: Spot LLC)

 

“It’s just a rocky coastline…and it would have done an awful lot of damage,” Avery said of the stretch of coast where the ship’s debris were found.

Three members of the boat’s crew were found dead and the fourth remains missing. Investigators with the U.S. Coast Guard and Mexican Navy on Monday suspended their search for the fourth victim.

A two-mile debris field is all that remains from the Redondo-based sailboat’s collision.

Authorities released a photo of William Johnson Jr., 57, of Torrance, one of the four sailors believed to have been killed in the weekend race between Newport Beach and Ensenada.

53-year-old Kevin Rudolph of Manhattan Beach and Joseph Stewart of Florida also died. No photo was released of the fourth person aboard.

One sailor who was off the coast of Rosarito said pieces of the 37-foot Aegean yacht were scattered everywhere when wreckage was found Saturday near the Mexican border.

Authorities initially suspected that a freighter or other large boat struck the yacht.

“It looked like the boat had gone through a blender,” sailer Erik Lamb said.

No distress signals were sent.

Rudolph’s wife, Leslie Rudolph of Manhattan Beach, says her husband was a third-time competitor in the race who trusted the boat’s captain and never had qualms about sailing.

“They could have been distracted,” said Avery, who suggested for such a long race the sailors could have placed the boat on auto-pilot.

» RELATED: 5th Crewman Doesn’t Consider Himself Lucky For Missing Deadly Yacht Race

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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