Theofanis Mavromatis, Fallen Newport-to-Ensenada Captain, Done in by Device: Suit

Categories: Court, Sports

* Paragraphs clarified or corrected since original report.

Remember when the Orange County Register wondered if a stoned seaman caused the August 2012 wreck of the Aegean, a Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race entrant that crashed off the Coronado Islands, killing four men?

Well, family members of the skipper, who was not on the pot, are suing the maker of the boat's emergency alert system.

Did Stoner Sailor Cause the Mysterious Newport-Ensenada Boat Crash?

* Redondo Beach's Theofanis Mavromatis, who was not the sailor said by authorities to have marijuana in his system but a 49-year-old former Boeing and Raytheon executive, captained the Aegean before the 37-foot Hunter was found in pieces off the tip of North Coronado Island on April 28, 2012.

* The U.S. Coast Guard Two months later, an independent panel of the United States Sailing Association partly blamed the accident on the Aegean not having a lookout on deck, but the Mavromatis family disputed those findings as premature. The U.S. Coast Guard has yet to release the findings of its own investigation.

Theofanis' widow Loren Christina Mavromatis and her three children filed a lawsuit Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court against SPOT LLC, the alert system's maker, and, which sold the product.

The suit alleges SPOT's SPT GPS Messenger failed, as advertised, to notify emergency services of the Aegean's GPS location in the event of an emergency. The system's alleged failures caused Mavromatis to suffer "severe injuries and ultimately death," according to the complaint.

Company officials could not be reached for comment on the suit, which alleges negligence, wrongful death and breach of warranty and seeks unspecified damages and burial costs.

The U.S. Coast Guard recovered the bodies of the deceased eight days after the wreckage was spotted. Toxicology reports later revealed no alcohol in the bodies of the four sailors but did confirm the presence of marijuana in 64-year-old Floridian Joseph Lester Stewart, reported my colleague Nick Schou at the time. William Reed Johnson Jr., 57, of Torrance, and Kevin Rudolph, 53, of Manhattan Beach, also perished.

This year's race is April 25.

Email: Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!

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The SPOT devices don't automatically send SOS messages. SOS messages must be manually activated by someone on the boat. If the crew were all incapacitated, no SOS message was sent. SPOT has never advertised that their devices will automatically send SOS messages. If anyone in the crew was in a condition to activate the SOS function, it's much more likely that they would simply have got on the radio to contact the Coast Guard in an emergency. It seems likely that the crew was entirely incapacitated before the vessel ran aground. There was no malfunction of the SPOT device. It tracked the vessel flawlessly as it was designed to do.


The SOS was manually activated 6 minutes after the alleged time of impact. I'm a family member and have the report. SPOT failed to notify the coast guard.

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