This weekend was a sad one for the people who live on Galveston Island and work at UTMB (University of Texas Medical Branch). Roger Stone, who worked at UTMB in Logistics, died when his boat sank in the early morning hours Saturday. The 32-foot racing craft, Cynthia Woods, was 100 miles from Galveston racing toward Veracruz, Mexico in the Regata de Amigos. The boat cleared the Galveston jetties at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, carrying six crew members including Stone, first safety officer Steven Conway, and four Texas A & M students. All were seasoned sailors.
The university lost transponder contact about 10:00 p.m. Stone was below deck with two students at 11:00 p.m. when the boat’s keel came off, and was instrumental in their rescue. The vessel capsized in seconds in the 6-to8 foot seas. When the crew failed to make the 8:00 a.m. routine radio check, the Coast Guard began search and rescue.
Five members of the crew were rescued after 26 harrowing hours in the water, supported by four life vests. Roger Stone was not among them. His body was recovered from the vessel at 4:00 p.m. yesterday. He is survived by a wife and two children.
What is not common knowledge is that this is not Roger Stone’s first heroic rescue. Two years ago during Texas Race Week Roger Stone heard the single distress call from the Paladin and abandoned his own race ambitions to rescue the crew. Functioning as assistant coach and safety officer, with an all-student crew, Stone piloted the Reveille to the rescue of the dismasted Paladin, risking 30 knot winds and nearby jetties. All of the Paladin’s crew, including two who were overboard, were safely rescued.
Two years ago the rescue had a happy ending. All the crew members were saved and the race committee allowed redress to the Reveille for heroism. The result was a first in both class and fleet. Yesterday’s rescue does not have a happy ending, and my thoughts and prayers are with the family today as they face the loss of this true hero.