- - Wednesday, April 25, 2012

CALIFORNIA

SAN FRANCISCO — A survivor of the fatal grounding of a racing yacht on rocky islands west of San Francisco is calling on the sailing community to make safety a higher priority.

Bryan Chong is one of three crew members who survived after the sailboat Low Speed Chase wrecked on the Farallon Islands during a race April 14. One crew member was found dead and four remain missing at sea.

In a letter posted online Tuesday, Mr. Chong says none of the eight sailors was tethered to the sailboat when it was slammed by a monster wave that knocked seven into the chilly water.

Mr. Chong, 38, says he hopes the tragedy will spur wider discussion of sailboat safety.

San Francisco authorities said Tuesday they found no evidence of criminal negligence in the accident.

NEW YORK

Woman admits faking cancer in wedding scam

GOSHEN — A New York woman admitted Wednesday that she faked cancer to con donors out of money and services for her wedding and Caribbean honeymoon.

Jessica Vega, 25, isn’t likely to do any time in state prison, court officials said, but she will have to repay $13,368 to her victims and remain in jail until her sentencing May 15.

She pleaded guilty in Orange County Court to scheming to defraud and possession of a forged instrument charges.

In 2010, Vega spread the word in her Hudson Valley community that she was dying of leukemia and wanted a “dream wedding” to Michael O'Connell, the father of her infant daughter, in the few months she had left.

Donors stepped up with rings, an embroidered wedding dress and a time-share in Aruba for the honeymoon. Other contributions included food, wine and hairdressing.

Vega was living in Montgomery, a town 60 miles north of New York City, when she launched the scam, which picked up steam when her story was featured in a local newspaper, the Times Herald-Record of Middletown.

But after their May 2010 wedding, Mr. O'Connell came to the newspaper with questions about her story and the couple divorced.

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