Sailing lesson proves fatal

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Irish-born New York City resident Eoin Curran's body was found at 11 a.m. July 31 off Huckleberry Island in Long Island Sound, several days after a sailing lesson went awry.

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Curran, 30, had gone out July 25 on a 23-foot Sonar sailboat with an instructor and two other passengers from the New York Sailing School of New Rochelle, N.Y., according to Lt. Christopher Hearle of the New Rochelle Police Dept. None of the people aboard were wearing life jackets. At about 3:30 p.m., the sailboat was knocked down in a squall with winds of about 20 to 35 mph. The boat was about 11 nautical miles northeast of Coast Guard Station Kings Point, N.Y. Curran and the instructor, who wasn't named, fell overboard, but the instructor was able to get back aboard the Sonar. He then threw a Type 4 PFD to Curran, who was not able to reach the flotation device before disappearing beneath the seas, according to Thomas McKenzie, spokesman for Coast Guard Public Affairs Detachment in New York.

The other two passengers managed to stay aboard through the ordeal.

"We don't know why Curran was not wearing a life jacket, nor why the instructor at the time didn't enforce it," says McKenzie.

The instructor called the Coast Guard via cell phone shortly after 3:30 p.m. and the Station Kings Point rescue boat crew was diverted to the scene, arriving within minutes, according to Charles Rowe, public affairs officer for Coast Guard Sector New York. A Coast Guard rescue helicopter was deployed from Air Station Atlantic City, N.J., to aid in the search. The Larchmont Police Department, Mamaroneck Police Department, New Rochelle Police Department, Westchester County Police and Sea Tow were among the several parties that assisted in the search for Curran. Twelve searches were conducted in 21 hours, including a first-light search July 26 by a Coast Guard helicopter from Air Station Atlantic City, according to McKenzie. The search was officially suspended at 1 p.m. July 26.

The body was discovered by a recreational boater who notified the New Rochelle Police Department. The department's marine division recovered Curran.

The Coast Guard encourages boaters to wear life jackets.

This article originally appeared in the October 2010 issue.