Yacht club says Race to Mackinac sailor drowned after life vest malfunctioned

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CHICAGO — The Chicago Yacht Club says an investigation shows a sailor in the Race to Mackinac drowned after his auto-inflate personal floatation device malfunctioned.

Jon Santarelli fell off Imedi, a TP52 sailboat, shortly after the start of the race on July 21. His body was found a week later.

The Coast Guard told the club it could not perform a full analysis of the PFD because the vest portion was destroyed when Santarelli was cremated. The Coast Guard did analyze the CO2 cartridge and said it did not appear to have triggered to inflate Santarelli’s PFD.

After investigating Santarelli’s death, the CYC has opened an inquiry into the safety of auto-inflate PFD’s and their future use in offshore races, and is urging sailors to comply with all maintenance and use instructions.

The Imedi heads to the start of the Race to Mackinac on Saturday, July 21, 2018. (Photo: Jeremy Mews)

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