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Three Arrested In Booze Cruise Gone Bad Aboard Stolen Luxury Yacht

Three people are in custody Tuesday in California, accused of commandeering an 82-foot luxury sailboat in Sausalito, partying through the night, and then running the yacht aground in the pounding surf off the beach at Pacifica.

Suspects Leslie Gardner, 63; Dario Mora, 54; and Lisa Modawell, 56, had allegedly stocked the Oyster 82 cutter "Darling" with beer and pizza before heading offshore. The vessel's owner was identified by ABC Channel 7 as Santa Rosa resident John Fruth, the founder of a Concord-area contact lens business.

By Monday morning, Gardner, Mora and Modawell were trying unsuccessfully to get the boat off the beach and finally surrendered to authorities. The trio were taken ashore in a personal watercraft by San Mateo County sheriff's deputies, then handed over to Pacifica police who booked them on suspicion of grand theft and conspiracy.

State Parks lifeguard and park ranger Jeff Wadkins, who boarded the vessel after the suspects were removed, said it looked like "there was quite a bit of alcohol drinking onboard."

He said the inside of the yacht, which Channel 7 said might be worth $2.7 million, was in disarray due to the relentless surf.

By 12:30 a.m. PT on Tuesday, the "Darling" had been recovered and was being towed to Richmond by the owner, a U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman said.

Coast Guard Ensign Corinne Gaines said the sailboat appeared to be seaworthy, and the potential damage to the vessel was still being assessed.

Earlier, Tim Parker, whose dive service was put in charge of the recovery said there was concern that if the tow wasn't done carefully, the vessel's 10-foot keel could snap off and the boat sink.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.