U.S. military: Seattle couple among four killed by Somali pirates

Feb 22, 2011

Updated at 11:22 a.m.

The U.S. military reports pirates have killed four American hostages they were holding on a yacht off Somalia's coast. The U.S. Central Command says negotiations had been under way to try to win release of the two couples on the pirated vessel Quest.

Gunshots were heard; and when U.S. forces reached the yacht, they found four all four hostages had been shot.

Two of the hostages. Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle, are from the Seattle area. Quest was owned by Jean and Scott Adam, a couple from California who had been sailing around the world since December 2004.  The Associated Press reports U.S. Navy personnel administered to the four as soon as they could board the boat, but all had died from their wounds.

Two pirates died during the ensuing confrontation, and 13 were captured and detained. The remains of two other pirates who were already dead also were found. In total, 19 pirates were involved in the hijacking of the Quest, according to a U.S. Central Command statement.

“We express our deepest condolences for the innocent lives callously lost aboard the Quest,” said Gen James N. Mattis, U.S. Central Command Commander.

The statement says military vessels had surrounded the hijacked yacht and negotiators were talking with the pirates when gunfire was heard.

Riggle and Macay had ties to the Seattle Singles Yacht Club. Past commodore Joe Grande says they were "Great sailors, good people. They were doing what they wanted to do, but that's small comfort in the face of this."

Grande says he last saw Riggle in September when he was "in country" - his boat was in France - and saw Macay some time last year.

The two have been sailing and traveling around the world on a three-year voyage. They had connected with Scott and Jean Adam after a race in India. The four were sailing from Mumbai to Oman when the pirates took their ship. 

A relative of Macay's told The Seattle Times that the sailors had received email reports of pirate activity in the area, but thought they were far enough off shore to avoid danger.