A little over a year ago, offshore racers Bob Morgan, Jeffrey Tillman, and Joey Gratton died in accidents during the 2012 Super Boat International Offshore World Championship. Morgan and Tillman drowned after their canopied four-engine catamaran flipped on a straightaway during Sunday’s race. Gratton drowned during the Sunday race when his twin engine canopied catamaran rolled in turn No. 1. (Steve Page, Gratton’s teammate in the cockpit, escaped without serious injury.)
It was the deadliest week of powerboat racing in this history of Key West.
In the weeks that followed, the Key West Sector of the United States Coast Guard began an investigation of both accidents. Coast Guard officials said they had expected to have the report completed by summer 2012, but as of late November the report had not been finished.
The Morgan and Tillman accident and the Gratton accident are being handled in separate reports as they were different incidents on different days. U.S.C.G. sector commander Gary Tomasulo explained that acquiring all the documents the Coast Guard needed has accounted for some of the time it has taken to complete the reports. He added that throughout the investigation the Coast Guard has been providing feedback to Super Boat International.
“One of our requirements that came out of the investigations is for each team to file an escape plan for its boat with SBI, and for the rescue teams to be familiar with each team’s escape plan,” said Tomasulo. “All of these boats are different—no two are exactly alike.
“That’s about all I can say at this point, other than we have been communicating frequently with SBI throughout our investigation,” he added.
Once the reports are complete, they will be sent to the U.S.C.G. state headquarters in Miami and, if they are not sent back to Key West for revisions or additions, they will be sent to the U.S.C.G. federal office for final approval. Once they receive final approval, the reports will be available for public viewing through Freedom of Information Act website.
“Either office can send them back to us if they want something else, so when we finish here that doesn’t necessarily mean we are done,” said Tomasulo.
- Matt Trulio