DAUPHIN ISLAND, Ala. (AP) — With the sailboat leaning precariously during a fierce storm in Mobile Bay, Kris Beall climbed over the side trying to right the craft and wanted to save others, his wife said Tuesday.
Beall, 27, of Pineville, Louisiana, was swept away into the white-capped water, only to be found dead later — one of two people confirmed killed in a marine tragedy that left four others missing.
Authorities identified the other victim as Robert Delaney, 72, of Madison, Mississippi.
A good Samaritan found the body of a third victim while fishing near an offshore gas platform Tuesday morning, U.S. Coast Guard officials said. That person’s name hasn’t been released and authorities are still searching for three others, Coast Guard spokesman Seth Johnson said.
As officials and volunteers continued searching for the three people still missing from boats that were in a race during the storm, Amanda Allbritton Beall said her 27-year-old husband died trying to save others aboard his vessel.
Survivors included Rob Stewart, who was Beall’s childhood swimming coach and taught him to sail, the woman said.
“Coach Stewart said he saw Kris standing on the keel of the boat … and he was just pushing down and pulling and trying his best to get that boat flipped back over,” Beall said. “And I think he just exerted everything he had into getting that boat flipped back over and getting them out of there.
“And that makes me feel, you know, good. He was just a protector and a take-charge kind of person.”
Kris Beall, who owned a construction company, played football at Pineville High School, where Amanda was a cheerleader. They’d been married almost three years but had dated since he was 16; Beal had been racing sailboats for several years.
“He just had a peace when he was out there,” she said. “I never got a sense that he was ever in fear on all these trips they’ve taken. They’ve been through storms. He loved being out there.”
With the search continuing for the missing, the U.S. Coast Guard, state and local officials used boats and aircraft to search for the missing in the Gulf of Mexico as far as 25 miles south of Dauphin Island. Volunteers walked the shoreline in search of anything the tide or waves might have washed in.
The missing are from three boats participating in the annual Dauphin Island Regatta, officials said. While the search was still considered a rescue mission, it could become an operation to recover remains without signs of survivors.
The boat race went awry Saturday afternoon when a powerful storm moved through, and officials said it’s unclear how long the missing could live in the Gulf.
The Coast Guard said nearly 470 people were aboard the 100 boats that participated in the race, and at least 10 boats sank.
Boats, many of which already had finished the race, were spread across a wide section of the lower bay when the storm hit, meaning searchers had to spend hours simply finding out how many boats and people were in the water during the squall.
“We spent a lot of time yesterday trying to reach out and cover back again all of the boats that were involved in the regatta to make sure we have full accountability,” said Capt. Duke Walker, Coast Guard commander in Mobile.
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