Loverboy bassist Scott Smith is missing at sea and presumed dead, after being swept off his thirty-seven-foot sailboat by a twenty-five-foot wave on Nov. 30 approximately four miles off of San Francisco’s Ocean Beach. The forty-five-year-old Smith was en route from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Mexico.
Two of Smith’s friends were also aboard but were unharmed, while Smith’s girlfriend was later treated for hypothermia. “I went down below to change into my foul weather gear so I could relieve Scott and then the wave hit and the boat went over on its side,” Smith’s longtime friend Bill Ellis told the Ottawa Citizen. “Within seconds I went back up and Scott was gone and he took the wheel with him. We turned back around but couldn’t find any of the debris or cushions or the man-overboard pole,” added Ellis.
Ellis immediately contacted the coastguard, who arrived in helicopters within twenty minutes, and two vessels were on the scene ten minutes later. A 133-square-mile search was launched, but called off at 2 p.m. the next day when efforts were hampered by massive waves and fog. A member of the coastguard told the San Francisco Chronicle that some of the swells exceeded two stories in height.
Smith’s friends and family continued a private search and rescue, hiring San Francisco-based Weststar Marine Service to look for the musician, but on Sunday night they called the search off.
“We have to confirm what we already believe in our hearts, which we don’t want to believe. We’re looking for anything that we can hang our hats on,” said Loverboy manager Lou Blair in a statement.
“Everybody’s devastated. Last Saturday, this band and everybody were together at the Commodore Ballroom raising money for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation,” Blair said of the band’s last appearance together, an event that raised more than $60,000.
Loverboy, who formed in 1978, sold more than twenty-three million records with such hits as “The Kid Is Hot Tonight,” “Working for the Weekend” and “Hot Girls in Love,” but according to Blair it’s unclear whether they will continue after the loss of Smith. The band was scheduled to play shows in Denver, Detroit and Oklahoma City in the next two weeks, but according to management, “That’s all on hold now.”