Survivor: Capsized boat felt like "Titanic"

  • July 9, 2011

SAN RAMON, Calif. (KGO) -- A survivor of the sunken fishing ship off the Coast of Mexico says it was like the Titanic.

It's been nearly a week since the fishing boat "The Erik" sank in the Sea of Cortez. Seven men are still missing and hope is waning. One survivor, however, is home on Saturday and said he's not giving up on his friends.

Charles Gibson is used to facing danger. Gibson is a former Oakland Police lieutenant and is now the chief of police for the Contra Costa Community College District. Gibson was also on board the Erik when it sank last week.

"It was like the Titanic," Gibson said. "I could read the name Erik as it went down and I felt this feeling of abandonment."

The 57-year-old and several others were in the dark water. Gibson, who didn't have a life vest, was confused and scared, but held on to one of dozens of ice coolers as they floated nearby.

Glenn Wong, a fellow fisherman, offered Gibson his life vest. Wong's brother, Brian, is still missing.

"He gave me this vest, which saved my life," Gibson said.

Afterward, the group separated. Gibson spent nearly 15 hours alone. He eventually swam to an island where local fishermen found him and another survivor.

Gibson is back home now, but several others are still missing. The search for the missing seven continued on Saturday. Gibson said he hopes they're still alive. The Coast Guard has agreed to continue looking for the men until at least Tuesday.

Since the accident, survivors have been found in the water and on nearby islands.

"If I made it to an island, they can," Gibson said. "And I hope they're on an island out there, waiting to be helped."

Don Lee's family is trying to stay strong, but is having a hard time. They're bracing themselves for the worst. Lee's family is calling for a specialized dive team to get involved and search for the sunken ship.

"Their main goal is to get that dive done, just to get that closure, whether my father-in-law is down there," said son-in-law Fred Hanson. "If that's the case, bring him home."

The Mexican government has asked a specialized dive team from Hawaii to help. That team may arrive as soon as tomorrow.

Read article: http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/national_world&id=8241585

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