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ANACAPA ISLAND : Suit Blames County for Boating Deaths

Relatives of two men who drowned off Anacapa Island in February have sued Ventura County, claiming that workers at a county-owned harbor allowed a defective boat to sail into stormy seas.

The suit, filed Tuesday in Ventura County Superior Court, also accuses boat owner Billy Joe Halfacre of knowingly taking an unseaworthy craft into dangerous weather. Halfacre, 62, of Culver City drowned when his boat broke up in 12-foot waves Feb. 16, as did Ronald Bailey, 50, and Thomas Lee Moyd, 33, both of Oxnard. Three other men were rescued, including Ernest Hanson, who also seeks damages.

The suit claims that Halfacre took his boat, the Galliano, out even though the Channel Islands Harbor Department had posted a notice on the boat saying it was unseaworthy. The suit claims that Halfacre did not tell his five passengers of the notice.

The suit faults the county for failing to confine the defective craft to its berth. It also claims that small-craft warnings had been raised, but harbor employees failed to prevent the craft from leaving. The suit does not specify the amount of damages sought, but the plaintiffs previously filed claims amounting to $12 million against the county, which rejected them.

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Assistant County Counsel Frank O. Sieh declined to comment on the suit.


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