VIDEO: Tragedy in Chi-Mac
Posted on 19 July 2011
Written by Chris Landry
The sailing community will come together today to mourn the loss of two competitors who died in a violent storm during the annual Race to Mackinac, which runs from Chicago’s Monroe Harbor to Mackinac Island in Michigan.
"It's the first fatality in the history of the race, and this is the 103rd," Chicago Yacht Club communications manager Rachelle Treiber says. "It's a really tight-knit community. But we still have sailors coming in. Today is our Sailor Celebration, so that's when everyone will really stop and think about what has happened. But we haven't spoken to many people because they're still coming in."
Click play to watch an Associated Press report on the capsize.
Click play to listen to the Chicago Yacht Club's statement Tuesday on the tragedy.
The two lost sailors are WingNuts skipper Mark Morley, 51, and Suzanne Bickel, 41, both from Saginaw, Mich., according to the Coast Guard. The crew of the competing sailboat Sociable recovered the other six crewmembers from WingNuts, the 35-footer that capsized. The survivors were Christopher Cummings, 16; John Dent, 50; Stan Dent, 51; Peter Morley, 47; Stewart Morley, 15; and Lee Purcell, 46.
"The crew of Sociable did a commendable job rescuing the six sailors," says Petty Officer 3rd Class George Degener, a public affairs specialist for the Ninth Coast Guard District in Cleveland. "They were able to get on scene quickly and help assist the sailors."
The accident occurred in 4- to 6-foot seas and 50-mph winds just after midnight Sunday about 13 nautical miles northwest of Charlevoix, Mich., and 10 miles east of South Fox Island, Degener says. The crew of Sociable notified the Coast Guard about the capsizing at 12:40 a.m. Monday. The two sailors who died were found about eight hours later by rescue divers, Degener says.