The bodies of four men were seen on Sunday afternoon floating near an upturned fishing boat on the north side of Santa Cruz Island. The U.S. Coast Guard retrieved three of the bodies and continues to look for the fourth. The men’s names have not been released.
Rescue teams launched a search along the Channel Islands on Sunday after one of the victims’ family members reported the men had not returned from a daylong fishing trip that began Saturday morning. They were due back at 8 p.m. that night.
According to Coast Guard Petty Officer Caleb Critchfield, helicopter crews spotted the men at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. None were wearing life vests. The weather in the area over the weekend was relatively mild with some choppy seas. The 24-foot vessel originally launched from Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard.
The Associated Press reports that one of the men was found on the boat and the bodies of two others were seen around 100 yards away. The fourth was spotted another five miles away. Critchfield said the rescue helicopter was forced to refuel during the search and lost track of the fourth body before nightfall. Flyovers will begin again Monday morning.
A Santa Barbara Sheriff’s helicopter aided in the search, and the three recovered men have been turned over to the County Coroner’s Office, said Critchfield.
[UPDATE, 1 p.m.]: The Santa Barbara Coroner’s Bureau has identified the three men whose bodies were recovered Sunday. They are: 37-year-old Sieng Sophorn Bun of Oxnard, 54-year-old Edgar Allen Isnec of Port Hueneme, and 52-year-old Ramiro Alvarez Duarte of Oxnard.
Six members of the Sheriff’s Dive Team set out this morning to search for the body of the fourth man. They will continue until dusk.
The Sheriff’s Department and the U.S. Coast Guard are conducting a joint investigation into the incident. The Coroner’s bureau is still looking into the exact cause and manner of death.
No other details were available.