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Lawsuit a Possibility as Panel Reports on Yacht Crash

A Manhattan Beach woman whose husband died in the accident as the boat competed in a race paves the way for a wrongful death lawsuit. Panel finds yacht lacked adequate lookout.

The widow of a Manhattan Beach man who died while crewing a racing yacht has filed court paperwork that begins the process of a possible wrongful death lawsuit against the estate of the boat's captain, reported the Press-Telegram.

Leslie Rudolph, whose husband Kevin Eric Rudolph, 53, died from blunt-force injuries to his head and neck according to a coroner's report, filed the documents in court two weeks ago, according to the article. The filing paves the way for Rudolph to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the estate of the yacht's captain, Theo Mavromatis, 49, of Redondo Beach, who also died in the accident.

The Aegean, a Hunter 376 yacht owned by Mavromatis, was representing Long Beach-based Little Ships Fleet Club in the annual Lexus Newport to Ensenada Yacht Race when it “vanished” from the online race tracking system at about 1:30 a.m. on a Saturday, according to a news release from Rich Roberts, the race's press officer.

In a report released Tuesday by an independent panel organized by U.S. Sailing, yacht racing's national governing organization, the panel indicates that the Aegean likely was on autopilot when it sailed past a GPS waypoint, the place where the captain would have decided which side of the island to pass on. The Aegean then smashed into the tip of North Coronado Island off the coast of Mexico shortly, shattering into so many pieces that its debris field prompted speculation it was destroyed in a collision with a larger ship in the middle of the night. 

The panel also determined that a key element of the accident was likely an inadequate lookout, according to an article in the Huffington Post, and said that coroner's reports found no evidence that alcohol, drugs or carbon monoxide poisoning played a role in the crash.

Mavromatis' family called the report premature, his daughter Anna Mavromati telling a reporter that her family disputes the report and waiting for U.S. Coast Guard to issue its official report.

Crew members William Reed Johnson Jr., 57, of Torrance, and Joseph Lester Stewart, 64, of Bradenton, Fla., who were the other two Aegean crew members, died in the mishap as well.

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