published Saturday, September 8th, 2012

Guard: 2 kids rescued after boat chase off California

MONTEREY, Calif. — Two children were rescued Friday from a sailboat that was stolen by their father, who is accused of abducting them from their mother’s home in Central California, authorities said.

The Coast Guard, FBI and South San Francisco police had been tracking the 40-foot sailboat Unleashed, which was sailed from a harbor in Alameda on Tuesday. Police said earlier that day, Christopher Maffei had removed his 3-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son from their mother’s home while she was out.

The children’s rescue came hours after the guard spent most of Friday following the boat as it slowly sailed down the rugged central California coastline. Chief Petty Officer Mike Lutz said a guard airplane followed the boat south to Monterey Bay, where the rescue occurred.

“A Coast Guard cutter approached the vessel and just started talking to them,” Coast Guard spokesman Thomas McKenzie said. “He put his hands up and surrendered without incident.”

Maffei’s daughter Brooklynn and son Devin were being examined by medical personnel and would be reunited with their mother, McKenzie said.

Maffei is the former boyfriend of the children’s mother, Jennifer Hipon. She told reporters that she was at a courthouse filing custody documents on Tuesday when Maffei went to her house and took the children from her elderly mother.

South San Francisco police say that after running off with the children, Maffei drove to the harbor in Alameda and left on the 40-foot sailboat. He sailed the boat out the Golden Gate, and headed down the coast, police said.

A fisherman spotted the sailboat off the San Mateo County coast on Friday, and law enforcement started a slow-speed chase as they tried to intercept the vessel, police said.

McKenzie said the stolen boat was recovered and would be returned to its owner.

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