Sailors missing and two casualties in Dauphin Island Race

Thunderstorms and high waves complicated Monday's search for four missing boaters in Mobile Bay, Alabama, who have been missing since powerful storms capsized their sailboats during an annual race Saturday. At least two other boaters have been confirmed dead from the accident.

The weather was worse Monday than during Sunday's search efforts, and the Coast Guard asked volunteers to stay on the shore and look for possible survivors there.

Earlier, crews used boats to search white-capped waters and asked volunteers to walk the shore in case anything washed up.

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The search continued today for people missing in the waters of Mobile Bay after a storm hit the annual 18nm Dauphin Island Race on April 25, capsizing boats and pitching sailors overboard Saturday. The race was hosted by Fairhope Yacht Club, located near Mobile, AL.

Two people have been confirmed dead, while four people remain missing. A fifth person originally feared missing was found safe at his home on Sunday night. Not all of the missing individuals were racing in the regatta, with some having been on the water at the time of the incident.

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The death toll from Saturday's storm-ravaged Dauphin Island Regatta officially rose to three on Tuesday when the U.S. Coast Guard announced that the body of a third boater had been recovered from Mobile Bay.

In a news release, the Coast Guard said a fisherman found the body near an offshore gas platform in the bay, and first responders brought it to U.S. Coast Guard Station Dauphin Island.

The Coast Guard now says its looking for three others reported missing following the race.

Here's what we know Wednesday morning:

  • The search for the remaining missing boaters from Saturday's regatta continued overnight Tuesday into Wednesday. Missing are three racers — Adam Clark, Jimmie Charles “J.C.” Brown, and Robert Thomas. 
  • U.S. Coast Guard Captain Duke Walker announced the identity of two of the three bodies that have been recovered since Saturday. The two were identified as Kris Beall, 27, of Pineville, La., and Robert Delaney, 72, of Madison, Miss. The identity of the body recovered Tuesday near the offshore gas platform has not yet been released.
  • Beall's body was found Saturday night near Middle Bay Light, and Delaney's was discovered Sunday near Fort Morgan.  
  • Delaney was the skipper of a boat in the race. One of the three who remain missing, Robert Thomas of Pickens, Miss., was also aboard that boat.
  • An erroneous announcement that the race had been called-off led to a delay in the start of the regatta Saturday. An official with the Fairhope Yacht Club, the group that hosted the event, said a miscommunication between race officials and the person updating the yacht club's website was the cause of the confusion. Reports of the possibility of strong storms moving into the area was not the cause of any delay with the start of the race, according to the official.
  • Searchers Tuesday were focusing on the shoreline of Mobile Bay. According to the Coast Guard, “a massive group of volunteers and agencies” are helping in that effort.
  • Since the operation began, rescue crews have searched 5,650 square miles in Mobile Bay, while the shoreline has been searched by both volunteers and state and local first responders.
  • Resources participating in the search Tuesday included:

3 Alabama Marine Patrol rescue boat crews
1 Coast Guard Auxiliary fixed-wing aircraft crew
1 Mobile County Air fixed-wing aircraft crew
1 Alabama Law Enforcement Agency helicopter crew
1 HH-65 Dolphin Helicopter rescue crew
The 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Coho
2 45-foot response boat medium rescue crews from Coast Guard Station Dauphin Island
Baldwin County Emergency Management Agency shoreline search team
Good Samaritan shoreline searchers
Daphne Search and Rescue
Mobile County Sheriffs Department Flotilla Dive Team
1 Mobile County Sheriffs Department Flotilla boat crew

  • Approximately 476 people took part in the regatta and were on the water when the storm hit Saturday afternoon. 117 boats participated in the race, eight of them were sunk or badly damaged by the storm.
JPK August 2023
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