Mackinac race official blames deaths on storm

July 21, 2011 5:00:58 PM PDT
An official of the group that sponsors the annual Chicago to Mackinac Island sailboat race blames what he calls a horrific storm for the deaths of two race participants.

Skipper Mark Morley and crew member Suzanne Bickel died when their craft overturned Sunday. Their 35-foot boat, called "Wingnuts," was knocked over by 75 mile-an-hour wind. Another boat saved six other crew members.

"People said that the lightning blinded them and then when the lightning stopped it was pitch black. They had horizontal rain and sleet. They couldn't see. Some boats actually bumped into each other," said Jerry Bober, Chicago Yacht Club vice commodore.

Bober said the Chicago Yacht Club is arranging an investigation by sailing experts to try to prevent another tragedy.