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Searches frantically try to find survivors from boat accident

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Search continues for missing boaters
  • American victim is identified as Leslie Yee
  • One surviving tourist is chief of police services at a California community college
  • The boat capsizes in the Sea of Cortez
  • More than 40 people were aboard the tourist boat

(CNN) -- The search continues Wednesday for seven Americans still missing after a tourist boat capsized off the east coast of Mexico's Baja California peninsula.

One American tourist was killed in the incident that occurred Sunday in the Sea of Cortez, near Isla San Luis, Mexico, authorities have said.

U.S. and Mexican officials are part of the search as the boat was carrying U.S. citizens and Mexican nationals.

The boat was carrying more than 40 people on a fishing expedition when it capsized.

Along with rescue officials fishermen who were in the area tried have help save people in the boat as it was sinking.

Tour boat sinks, Americans aboard

One of the fisherman was MIke Kalicki. The fisherman was closed to tears when recounting the rescue attempt to CNN affiliate KGTV.

"It was nice to be able to help out," Kalicki told the affiliate. "They look at us like saviors. We just helped them out. Later that evening we all went to the beach had a group hug."

Harry Edwards, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, said Tuesday that so far 19 American passengers have been rescued. But the search continues for seven more American passengers, he said.

U.S. authorities identified the killed American as Leslie Yee.

"The State Department expresses its condolences to the victim's family and remains in contact with the survivors and families of the missing," the agency said in a statement.

If someone is out there, there is a good chance that they are still surviving, and we will keep looking for them.
--Coast Guard Lt. Bill Burwell.

There were conflicting numbers on how many people were on the boat when it sank. Mexican authorities counted 43 passengers and crew, while the Coast Guard put the number at 44.

One of the surviving tourists is Charles Gibson, the chief of police services at Contra Costa Community College District in California. Gibson is an avid fisherman and has participated in the same deep sea fishing trip several times, said Contra Costa Community College spokesman Tim Leong.

Gibson's family has been in contact with him but Leong declined further comment about the circumstances of the incident pending Gibson's return from Mexico.

According to the Contra Costa Community College website, Gibson served in the U.S. Navy where he was assigned to the USS Ranger. He served two terms in Vietnam and received the Vietnam Service Medal.

CNN's Tom Watkins, Helena DeMoura, Leslie Tripp, Stan Wilson, Sandra Endo and Michael Martinez contributed to this story.