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U of C student Erik Reid (left) went missing off the coast of San Francisco in a reading week boating accident.
Photo courtesy Daryl Fenton

Student presumed dead

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Reading week saw the tragic loss of 23-year-old U of C Computer Science student Erik Reid.

Reid was sailing off the coast of San Francisco Wed., Feb. 18, when high winds and waves capsized the boat. On board at the time of the incident were Reid, his father Randy Reid and family friend Brad Amos.

"Wind conditions were gusting between 30 and 40 kilometres an hour," said San Francisco Golden Gates Park Area Public Affairs official Rich Weideman. "There was a storm surge coming in."

Reid and his father were sailing up the California coastline when the weather soured and the 30-foot sail boat was knocked over by three successive waves over about 45 seconds, according to a letter written by Randy Reid. Erik Reid was tethered to the boat for safety at the time and it is suspected the tether prevented him from escaping the capsizing vessel.

"[Reid] disappeared and has not been seen since the time of the accident," said Weideman. "The average life expectancy in that water is about 25 minutes."

Although Reid is missing and only presumed dead, hope that he will be found has all but faded.

"After this period of time, the hope is diminishing," said Reid's sister, Jen. "But I will always hope that he is on a beach somewhere, confused."

According to Jen Reid, the response to the loss of Erik has been overwhelming. Reid was well liked and left many friends behind.

"He was well liked and close to all of my friends," said Daryl Fenton, Reid's classmate and friend. "Personally, I don't know what I'll do without him. He was always willing to drop what he was doing to help a friend. He always had a smile."

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