Auction To Honor Guardsmen -- Boat's Proceeds To Go To Memorial For 3 Who Died
Seattle Times Staff Reporter
WOODINVILLE - The 31-foot sloop is perched on stilts, its battered hull and stub of a mast bathed in July sunshine.
But five months ago, the Gale Runner was the focal point of an ill-fated rescue attempt in the stormy waters off the Washington coast near La Push. Three Coast Guardsmen were killed and a fourth injured trying to rescue the boat's two occupants, who were plucked from the Gale Runner by a helicopter before the boat ran aground on the rocks.
The damage from that ordeal has left the boat little more than a battered shell. But it is hoped that by auctioning off the Gale Runner today the three dead Coast Guardsmen can be permanently honored.
The proceeds, donated by auctioneer Global Marine of Woodinville, will go to the Coast Guard's Memorial and Survivors' Fund.
The boat's former owner, Kenneth Schlag, who was rescued along with his companion Marcia Infante, received a settlement on the boat from his insurance company, which then sold the boat to Global Marine for $1.
Jim Quinn of Quinn's Boat Sales and Auction, who is also sponsoring the event, said that there were no plans to linger on the boat's past during the auction. "We're just going to mention it real quick and go," he said.
Auctioneer Sully Sutherland of Global Marine hopes the boat will fetch up to $2,000. If no one bids on it, "then I'll buy it myself, if that's what it takes."
The money from the sale will help construct a memorial to the
fallen men, to be unveiled sometime in the fall, said Coast Guard Capt. Phil Volk. The memorial, which will cost between $20,000 and $30,000, will be placed at the Coast Guard Station in La Push, Clallam County, where all three men served.
The three crewmen who died - Petty Officer 2nd Class David Bosley, Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew Schlimme, and Seaman Clinton Miniken - were making their way to the Gale Runner when their rescue boat overturned. Only Seaman Apprentice Benjamin Wingo survived, strapped to the rescue craft's battered hull.
A Coast Guard investigation blamed the accident on inadequate training and poor judgment on the part of the rescue boat's crew.
The memory and the pain of the accident remain.
Dan Miniken, Clinton's father, still can't talk about it in public.
Sandi Bosley, David's wife, left their home in Forks and went to California.
Schlag never contacted the victims' families directly, said Matthew Schlimme's mother.
Schlag, who recently retired from the Navy, could not be reached for this article.
In Whitewater, Mo., Schlimme's family is still living moment by moment with the knowledge that their son, brother, and husband, is gone.
"They say it gets easier with time, but we haven't reached that point yet," said his mother, Haroletta.
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The Gale Runner will be auctioned at noon today at Global Marine, 8625 219th St. S.E., in Woodinville.
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