KBTX | Bryan & College Station, TX | Aggieland News

Five Members of Aggie Crew Rescued; One Found Dead

By: KBTX Staff Email
By: KBTX Staff Email

Five of the six members of the Texas A&M Offshore Sailing Team that went missing Saturday have been found, another one has been found dead in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the university.

The crew’s 38-foot boat was found capsized 11 miles south of Matagorda by the Coast Guard Saturday morning (see map below this story), this after the crew of the Cynthia Woods did not check in at a required time Saturday morning during their race.

Roger Stone, a Galveson resident and one of the two safety officers on board, was the only one still missing from the crew that was sailing from Galveson to Veracruz, Mexico as part of the Regata de Amigos, a race that has taken place every other year since 1968, according to Texas A&M.

The five crew members now rescued include four Texas A&M students. Three of them -- Steven Guy of The Woodlands, Joe Savana of Sugar Land and Travis Wright of League City -- attend Texas A&M at Galveston, said A&M officials. The fourth, Ross James Buzbee of The Woodlands, attends Texas A&M in College Station.

Steve Conway was the other safety officer on board who has been rescued. He reportedly works for Texas A&M at Galveson.

Their conditions were not immediately available.

The university reports the five were found about 2 a.m. Sunday morning. Houston CBS affiliate KHOU reports the men were located about 23 miles south of Freeport.

According to the university, all the mariners were experienced sailors.

The race, which covers 610 nautical miles, started Friday and continues into next week.

Communication with the boat was lost about midnight Friday, and the boat missed its 8 a.m. radio check, the Coast Guard reported.

According to a news release from the university, Texas A&M President Elsa Murano and other key university officials from College Station flew to Galveston to be with family members of the students and safety officers who were aboard the sailboat.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the missing and their families,” said R. Bowen Loftin, Texas A&M Galveston’s vice president and chief executive officer.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

The following is a statement released at 1:30 p.m. Sunday from Texas A&M-Galveston:

I'm pleased to inform you that five of the six missing crew members of the Texas A&M University at Galveston sailboat that capsized while participating in a race from Galveston to Veracruz, Mexico were safely rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard at approximately 2 a.m. Sunday. Four Aggies - three from the Galveston campus and one from the main campus - and one safety officer are all being treated at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston for sunburn and dehydration. They are all listed in good condition.

I spoke briefly with the rescued students and the safety officer this morning and they spent approximately 26 hours in the water with four life vests amongst the five crew members. After hearing their stories, I can say that these are professional mariners and true Aggies. Their training and preparation, along with their Aggie Spirit, allowed them to overcome this challenging ordeal.

The Galveston students are Steven Guy, Joe Savana and Travis Wright, and the student enrolled on the main campus is Ross James Busby. The rescued safety officer is Steve Conway, a retired Coast Guard commander and current Texas A&M at Galveston staff member. For more information and video of the rescue provided by the Coast Guard, please go to: http://cgvi.uscg.mil.

While media coverage has been extensive, President Murano and I urge you to visit the Texas A&M at Galveston website at www.tamug.edu or the Texas A&M University website at www.tamu.edu for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

The Coast Guard-led search continues for the vessel's second safety officer and our sixth team member, Roger Stone, a Galveston resident. We ask that you continue to keep the Stone Family in your thoughts and prayers.

R. Bowen Loftin
Vice President & CEO
Texas A&M University at Galveston

The following is a timeline of events provided through the Texas A&M-Galveston website in regards to the missing crew:

Sunday, June 8, 2008 - 4:37 a.m.
At approximately 2:00 a.m., Sunday, June 08, 2008, the U.S. Coast Guard located five of the six missing crew members of the Cynthia Woods sailboat from Texas A&M University at Galveston.

Those five are students Joe Savana, Steven Guy, Ross Busby, and Travis Wright and safety officer Steven Conway. The rescued crew are currently receiving medical care at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

At this time, the U.S. Coast Guard is continuing to search for the sixth member of the Cynthia Woods crew, Roger Stone, the vessel’s second safety officer. UPDATE: Roger Stone's body was inside the Cynthia Woods vessel Sunday 27 miles southeast of Freeport, Texas, late this afternoon.

Click on the link below for a statement from Texas A&M.

Friday, June 6, 2008 - approximately 10:00 p.m.
The Cynthia Woods was shown to still be on-track along the planned course of the Regata de Amigos toward Veracruz, Mexico. Tracking information at approximately midnight of that same evening showed that the Cynthia Woods had begun to drift northwest toward the Texas Gulf Coast.

Saturday, June 7, 2008 - 8:00 a.m.
The crew of the Cynthia Woods failed to communicate at the planned time of contact, per standard operating procedure. At this point, officials at Texas A&M University at Galveston contacted the United States Coast Guard in an effort to establish verbal and visual contact with the Cynthia Woods.

Saturday, June 7, 2008 - 6:35 p.m.
Earlier today, Texas A&M University at Galveston contacted the US Coast Guard to report that the crew of the Cynthia Woods, a 38 foot Cape Fear sailboat, on which safety officers and students were sailing, failed to check in as scheduled at 8:00 a.m. The Coast Guard launched a search off the coast of Freeport as a precaution. Since that time we have been in constant communication with the Coast Guard and the families of those on board the Cynthia Woods.

At approximately 5:15 p.m. the Coast Guard reported that there was an overturned vessel in the water near the location of the last report from the Cynthia Woods transponder. That vessel is a sailboat with a blue hull similar to that of the Cynthia Woods. However, at this time there is no verification that this overturned vessel is the Cynthia Woods.

There is a helicopter on site and two Coast Guard vessels are in route. The Coast Guard continues to search the area for a liferaft and/or people in the water.

The Cynthia Woods was participating in the Regata de Amigos. This regata has been held every even-numbered year since 1968. Participants in the race sail from Galveston, Texas to Veracruz, Mexico. There are approximately 25 boats participating in this year’s race.

Saturday, June 7, 2008 - 9:24 p.m.
Texas A&M University at Galveston has received confirmation that the overturned vessel identified earlier this afternoon was the Cynthia Woods, a 38-foot Cape Fear sailboat, on which a crew of six -- four students and two safety officers -- were sailing in the Regata de Amigos from Galveston to Veracruz, Mexico.

Coast Guard officials said that the keel of the overturned vessel had been ripped off, which indicates the Cynthia Woods may have hit something in the water. The Coast Guard also found the Cynthia Woods' horseshoe-like floatation device detached from the vessel.

Crew members aboard the vessel have been confirmed as Texas A&M at Galveston students Steven Guy of The Woodlands, Joe Savana of Sugar Land and Travis Wright of League City; Ross James Busby of The Woodlands, a student at Texas A&M University in College Station; and safety officers Steve Conway of Texas A&M at Galveston and Roger Stone, a Galveston resident.

The Coast Guard is expected to continue searching for the crew throughout the night.

The following message was sent to all Texas A&M students, faculty and staff regarding the missing Galveston sailing team:

June 7, 2008
Message to the Aggie Family:

It is with the deepest regret that I inform you that four Aggies-three
from the Galveston campus and one from the main campus-and two safety officers are missing in the Gulf of Mexico after their 38-foot sailboat apparently capsized early Saturday morning while they were participating in the Regata de Amigos, a race from Galveston to Veracruz, Mexico. The Coast Guard-led search is continuing. The Galveston students are identified as Steven Guy of The Woodlands, Joe Savana of Sugar Land and Travis Wright of League City, and the one enrolled on the main campus is Ross James Busby of The Woodlands. The two safety officers are Steve Conway of Texas A&M at Galveston and Roger Stone, a Galveston resident. Texas A&M President Elsa Murano and other key university officials from College Station flew here to Galveston to be with family members of the students and the two safety officers who were aboard the sailboat and to lend support to us. The most detailed currently available information is posted on both the
TAMUG website, www.tamug.edu, and the Texas A&M University website, www.tamu.edu, and those websites will be undated as additional information becomes available. Our thoughts and prayers are with the missing and their families.

R. Bowen Loftin
Vice President & CEO
Texas A&M University at Galveston


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