One dead, one missing after boat found spinning off California coast

One person was found dead and another is missing after a boat was discovered spinning in circles off the California coast Sunday, officials said.

The 17-foot boat was found around 1 p.m. adrift about 8 miles south of Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay, located about 24 miles south of San Francisco, the Coast Guard said in a news release.

A Coast Guard cutter is now searching for Tuan "Tom" Tran, who is believed to have been operating the vessel. Harbor personnel found one boater unresponsive earlier in the day near the adrift vessel, which was reported to have two people aboard, including Tran.

When officials originally found the fishing boat, it was spinning in circles out of control.

"Once you lose control of the helm, boats are designed to circle," Sgt. John Gonzales with the San Mateo County Sheriff's Department told ABC 7. "It's a steering mechanism. It kind of pulls forward. It pulls to the right or left and it will stay in that circle."

Authorities let the boat run out of fuel before they were able to safely approach it. Officials then towed it to a nearby harbor as part of the investigation.

Gonzales said boat incident appeared to be an accident, but authorities wanted to check to make sure "everything is fine."

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The Deputy Harbormaster believes neither of the two people on the boat were wearing a life jacket.

"I'm not sure if they would have survived in this situation," Cary Smith told ABC 7. "But certainly they would have had their heads above water or long enough for somebody to have seen them."

Coast Guard officials searched for Tran into Sunday night, and planned to continue the search into Monday.