Investigators to Inspect Dead Couple's Beached Boat

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National Park Service investigators will be poring over the 33-foot boat of a couple killed yesterday off Ocean Beach in an attempt to answer what compelled a middle-aged couple to head overboard to their deaths.

"We don't know why the boat was in distress and we don't know why the people left the boat," said Alexandra Picavet, a spokeswoman for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

The couple's identities have not yet been released by the San Francisco Medical Examiner's office. Their boat has washed ashore east of Eagle Point, near China Beach in San Francisco -- not Marin, as the Coast Guard earlier reported. The boat is currently resting in an area inaccessible safely by land. The National Park Service is devising a manner of retrieving the boat -- the hull is not in a condition where it can be towed off . Afterward, it can be worked over to potentially determine what led to this fatal accident.

"Our hope is to have it done before the next major tide which is 9 p.m. tonight," said Picavet. Retrieving the boat will be a coordination between the National Park Service, Coast Guard, and professional boat salviging company hired by the insurance company covering the boat. 

Coast Guard spokesman Lieutenant Junior Grade Jeremy Pichette told the Chronicle that the survivors of the drowned couple would be responsible for funding the salvage of the washed-up boat. Picavet presented a somewhat different scenario. The insurance company covering the boat, she said, will fund its retrieval and towing to "whatever yard where the investigators will look at it."

The National Park Service will lead the investigation because the boat and bodies ended up on its land.
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