Boat Found On Ocean Floor Off San Pedro

A recreational vessel found on the ocean floor today by Los Angeles County sheriff's dive teams is believed to be the Bayliner that missing boaters Henry Sanchez and his girlfriend were aboard, the U.S. Coast Guard reported.

The 51-year-old brother of congresswomen Loretta and Linda Sanchez and his companion, 48-year-old Penny Avila, both of Santa Ana, are believed to have been killed early last Thursday morning when their motorboat collided with the Islander, a barge being towed by Rebel II, a tugboat out of San Pedro.

A debris field about five miles offshore was reported by a boater the following morning, and investigators recovered from the Islander a section of fiberglass containing a vessel registration number matching Sanchez's boat, according to the Coast Guard.

After searching more than 300 square miles into the next night, the Coast Guard suspended the search for survivors but continued investigating the circumstances of the accident.

The boat fitting the profile of the missing 26-foot Bayliner was found upside down on the ocean floor, fives miles south of the entrance to Los Angeles Harbor at a depth of 150 feet, about 12:30 this afternoon.

Based on past photos of the boat and the location of the wreck near the suspected collision site, authorities are convinced they have found the missing vessel, according to the Coast Guard.

Later Tuesday afternoon, agencies involved in the hunt will develop a dive plan to put into effect tomorrow morning in an attempt to refloat the hull and pass it on to the Coast Guard for evidence in the investigation.

Agencies involved in the search included the Coast Guard, the Los Angeles Port Police, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, Long Beach Fire Department and Los Angeles County Lifeguards.

Sanchez and Avila were en route from Alamitos Bay to Two Harbors on the west end of Santa Catalina Island when the collision occurred shortly after midnight.

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