Search for missing sailors called off as friends, family mourn 

click to enlarge A U.S. flag is seen at half mast at the San Francisco Yacht Club in Belvedere on Monday. - REUTERS PHOTO
  • Reuters photo
  • A U.S. flag is seen at half mast at the San Francisco Yacht Club in Belvedere on Monday.

Friends and family of four missing sailors said they were devastated by news that the Coast Guard called off its search late Sunday after the “window of survivability” passed.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Caleb Critchfield said the search continued well beyond the possibility of finding anyone alive.

“We don’t make these decisions lightly or easily,” he said Monday.

When the initial distress call came through about 3 p.m. Saturday, Critchfield said the water temperature was 50 degrees. Seas were “typical” for this time of year, but the waves were strong enough to slam into the Low Speed Chase, a 38-foot sailboat, as it rounded the Farallon Islands in a 54-mile race from the St. Francis Yacht Club, throwing five of eight crew members overboard.

When the three remaining sailors turned around in a rescue attempt, another wave slammed into the boat, throwing two others overboard and breaking the leg of the third.

The Coast Guard quickly responded and found three sailors — James Bradford of Chicago and Brian Chong and Nick Voss, both of Tiburon — who had climbed onto the rocks. Shortly after, the body of Tiburon resident Marc Kasanin was pulled from the water.

Bradford is the captain and owner of the boat.

Four crew members remained missing. But after spanning more than 30 hours and 5,000 miles, the search was called off, Critchfield said.

The missing sailors are Alexis Busch of Larskpur, Alan Cahill of Tiburon, Jordan Fromm of Kentfield and Elmer Morrissey of Ireland.

Busch is the daughter of former Giants Executive Vice President Corey Busch, the team said in a statement Monday. Alexis Busch was the first bat girl in Major League Baseball history, according to the Giants, and greeted former slugger Barry Bonds at home plate after his 500th career home run in 2001.

The team held a moment of silence for the dead and missing crew members before Monday night’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies at AT&T Park.

A close friend of Alexis Busch, who requested to remain anonymous, said the young woman had a sharp sense of humor and loved baseball, music and theater. On her 16th birthday, the friend said, Bonds gave Alexis Busch the lessons about “the birds and the bees,” which she and her friends had a good laugh about.

“She was one of those rare people who lives life to its fullest, who loves with abandon, who accepts people as they are,” the friend said in an email.

Alexis Busch was dating Voss, and they had just completed a race in Australia. The entire crew was experienced and the boat was “well-traveled,” the yacht club said.

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

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