Feds blame crew for 2011 Baja fishing boat deaths

The U.S. Coast Guard says the owner and crew of a fishing boat that sank in the Sea of Cortez two years ago and killed eight California men, including two from Sonoma County, were negligent.

The Contra Costa Times (http://tinyurl.com/cyjkxay ) reported on Tuesday that in a letter sent to Mexico's Secretary of Communications and Transportation, Coast Guard officials agreed with the conclusions of Mexican investigators.

Mexican investigators said "major modifications" made the boat unstable. Investigators also blamed the crew and captain for failing to issue safety instructions to passengers. The captain also failed to order everyone to abandon ship when it became obvious the vessel was sinking.

The Coast Guard cover letter commended the Mexican investigation, which was completed in early March.

"I applaud your ongoing efforts to hold the master and crew of the Erik accountable for their actions," read a cover letter to the Coast Guard review.

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