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Dead Sailor Called A Hero For Saving 5

A sailor is being praised as a hero for helping get five others to safety at the cost of his own life when a sailboat capsized during a regatta on the Gulf of Mexico.

Divers pulled safety officer Roger Stone's body from the boat Sunday afternoon, more than 12 hours after rescue crews found four college students and another safety officer in choppy waters.

Three of the students - Steven Guy, Joe Savana and Travis Wright - attend Texas A&M at Galveston. The fourth, Ross James Buzbee, attends Texas A&M in College Station.

The five had shared four life vests to stay afloat for more than a day. They spent Sunday visiting with family and nursing minor sunburn and dehydration.

R. Bowen Loftin, CEO of Texas A&M at Galveston, expressed condolences to Stone's family - including a wife and two children - in a message posted on the school's Web site.

"We hope they can take some comfort in knowing all five survivors of this tragic accident credit Mr. Stone with heroic efforts that were instrumental in making possible their survival," Loftin said on the school's Web site. "We now know that Roger Stone died a hero in the classic sense of the word."

Steve Conway, the other safety officer onboard, spoke with CBS News Early Show anchor Harry Smith about what happened after the sailboat began to sink.

"Roger was down below with Steven and Travis Wright and he said that water was coming in and then when the boat went turtle, he pushed Steven and Travis up through the hatch and was obviously trapped below," said Conway.

The search for the sailors began Saturday morning after the 38-foot sailboat Cynthia Woods missed a radio check. The boat, which lost communication around midnight Friday, was competing in the Regata de Amigos. The race, which covers hundreds of miles from Galveston to Veracruz, Mexico, started Friday and continues into next week.

Loftin said Conway kept the survivors together in the water and used a flashlight to signal Coast Guard searchers. The five stayed afloat with four life vests in 4- to 6-foot seas, Loftin said.

"We kept a real positive attitude and looked forward to the fact that the Coast Guard was gonna save us, that it was just a matter of time," Conway told Smith.

Coast Guard officials said the keel of the overturned vessel was ripped off, indicating the sailboat may have hit something in the water, according to the school. Race director Kevin Box said the loss of the keel can cause a boat to overturn in seconds.

A helicopter crew from Air Station Houston pulled the five men from the water 23 miles south of Freeport about 2 a.m., Coast Guard Petty Officer Renee C. Aiello said Sunday. They had drifted about five miles northwest of their capsized boat.

The five survivors were at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and were in good condition with sunburn and dehydration, Loftin said.

"I've talked to all of them, and they're all doing fine," he said. "They were extremely happy to be alive."

"I got out of the cabin without a life jacket, because that was the only way I would be able to get out," Steven Guy told Smith, "if not, I wouldn't be here today. And when I popped up, I held on to Steve and I held on to another person and they rotated the entire time."

"If it weren't for the four other guys, I probably wouldn't be here," Guy said, adding quietly, "and Roger."

Mike Janota, who also has sailed the Cynthia Woods as a safety officer, told the Houston Chronicle that Stone, 53, "was one of the best navigators I know. He's always prepared."

"There's not an aspect of sailing that he doesn't excel at," Janota said.