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MOB during graduation sail

JUNE 12 - A high school graduation sailing adventure for three Oregon teenagers turned tragic last Tuesday when one of them died after going over the side.

Andrew Brinkley, 18, of Portland, was on board the 29-foot sailboat Fat Chance with his father, two friends and the father of one of the friends when the accident happened, according to a report in The Oregonian. Brinkley and his friend’s father reportedly went overboard in 5-foot swells more than 35 miles west of Point Reyes, Calif. Although Brinkley was wearing a PFD, he wasn’t tethered to the boat, like the father, who was pulled back aboard. Brinkley had reportedly just come on deck.

“There’s always going to be a whole lot of ‘coulda, shoulda, woulda’ on this,” Brinkley’s sister, Jenny, told The Oregonian. “If you could just go back in time and repeat the events of that day, you’d take the opportunity without questioning it.”

The men contacted the Coast Guard on the VHF, according to news reports, and the agency reportedly launched an 87-foot cutter, three 47-foot patrol boats, two helicopters and a C-130 rescue airplane to search for Brinkley. A helicopter crew spotted him about three miles northwest of Fat Chance. They hoisted him from the water and performed CPR, but Brinkley was pronounced dead shortly thereafter. Having spent five hours in the water, authorities assumed he died of hypothermia. Results of an autopsy were pending.

Brinkley’s father had recently purchased the sailboat in the San Francisco Bay area, reports say, and the group had planned to spend a week sailing to Oregon.

— Jason Fell