Dive boat captain faces new charge in California’s worst modern maritime disaster, which killed 34 Chinese nationals in a tragic boat accident off Alaska in 1989.
“The boat’s captain had no idea what he was doing,” said the victim’s father, who spoke at a press conference last night in Seattle, Washington. “He should have been arrested when he came out of the cabin.”
He did know enough not to take passengers out too deep, but didn’t know how big the wave was, or that the sea was too rough for his outbound vessel to be able to get back to port, the victim’s father said.
He said he was not surprised that charges against the captain in the 1989 tragedy would be leveled later this spring.
“He will have to pay for what he did,” the father said of the captain, who was on a freighter headed from Alaska to Hawaii when it ran aground about 50 miles north of Alaska’s Kodiak Island on a day when the seas were rough and the boat was carrying about 50 to 60 passengers.
There were no survivors from the freighter, which remained stranded on the beach for five days while the captain had the passengers, including some Chinese, get off the boat and wade into the surf, then got into the water on a rescue basket and helped the survivors get back to their boat and try to navigate the rough waters back to shore.
“The freighter ran aground, and the captain was supposed to help with the rescue. But the captain ignored the advisory and went out too far. That’s when the wave hit, too far in, and the freighter broke up and sank,” said Capt. David Leggett of the Seattle maritime police.
The captain was not present for the press conference held May 21 to present the final report on the accident, and the victim’s father decided to speak last night when he could not attend. His son had died in the tragedy, and he was not physically able to attend the press conference.