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5 Americans Missing in Gulf of California

October 29, 2003

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ Mexican authorities were searching by sea and air for five Americans after finding their capsized boat in the northern Gulf of California, officials said Wednesday.

The missing men set out in a small boat for a day of sport fishing on Saturday. They were identified as Mark Brinke, 47; Carl Hopper; Daryl Holland; Randy Howard and his son Joshua Howard, 21, all from the area of Tucson, Ariz.

The men have not been heard from since they left Puerto Penasco on the Mexican mainland headed for San Felipe, a popular tourist destination on the Baja California side of the Gulf of California.

The boat was spotted about 15 miles off San Felipe and 100 miles southwest of Puerto Penasco, said Captain Rafael Munoz, commander of the naval detachment at Puerto Penasco.

Puerto Penasco, also known as Rocky Point, is about 60 miles south of the Arizona border and is a popular weekend beach destination for Arizonans.

Munoz said three navy vessels and a helicopter were sent early Wednesday to the site where the capsized boat was found, but none of the missing men had been found.

``The waves in that area are very strong and that added to the winds makes it a very dangerous area to navigate,″ said Munoz. ``They probably got trapped in one of those currents and that made their boat capsize.″

Mark Brinke’s wife, Jane, told the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson that she was upset that the boat was found capsized but she hoped it would accelerate the search for her husband and his friends. ``Now we know for sure where they were, and the searchers know the area to search.″

Hopper, 42, is an experienced fisherman and boater, his son Chris Hopper told the newspaper:

``He went down there a couple times a year with his boat, and Randy and Josh have been fishing with him for years,″ said Hopper, 20. ``This is actually the second boat he’s had, and they’re just not stupid as far as taking dumb risks.″

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