Captain blamed for fatal capsize

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JAN. 2 - The skipper of a charter fishing boat went too close to the Umpqua River bar in Oregon last September, causing the boat to capsize and the deaths of three of his passengers, the National Transportation Safety Board says in a report it released in December.

The report says the boat, the Sydney Mae II, was swamped and then sank after Capt. Richard Oba, who is 50 and of Reedsport, Ore., came too close to the bar, newspaper accounts say. Oba had reportedly cut the fishing trip short because of rough conditions. The Coast Guard had restricted recreational and uninspected passenger vessels from crossing the bar the day of the accident.

Oba was also faulted in the report for not having enough PFDs on board, according to news reports. None of the passengers were wearing PFDs when the boat capsized. Coast Guard officials were able to rescue Oba and one passenger but Ginger Strelow, of Reedsport; Bill Harris, of Springfield, Ore.; and Paul Turner, of Boise, Idaho, drowned.

Jason Fell