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Clues Found in Mystery Collision

The disappearance of Southern California powerboaters Henry Sanchez and Penny Avila late Wednesday night still remains a mystery, despite several days of searching by Coast Guard rescue divers and other resources.

Sanchez, 51 — who is the brother of California Congresswomen Loretta and Linda Sanchez — and Avila, 48, left Alamitos Bay, near Long Beach, aboard their 26-ft Bayliner either late Wednesday night or very early Thursday morning, bound for Catalina Island, and have not been heard from since.

About 7:30 Thursday morning, a recreational boater came across a debris field roughly five miles south of the L.A. Harbor entrance. Some of the personal items and boat fragments found are believed to have been from Sanchez’ boat, including toy swords. The couple was making the 20-mile channel crossing to participate in the island’s annual Buccaneer Days celebration.

The twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach comprise the nation’s largest port complex. Conjecture among rescue personnel is that the Bayliner probably collided with a barge or other commercial shipping traffic within the ‘precautionary area’, where the northbound and southbound shipping lanes meet.

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