Body found at San Francisco's Fort Funston confirmed to be missing mariner

The body of a Marin County man presumed drowned last weekend when a boat sank in heavy seas off Ocean Beach washed ashore at Fort Funston Saturday, authorities confirmed Sunday.

Roger Christiansen, 53, went missing the afternoon of April 9 after the 43-foot tugboat he and another man were on began taking on water about a half-mile offshore, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard was able to rescue the second man from the frigid waters, but called off a search for Christiansen after about eight and a half hours.

The pair had been on their way to Pacifica to retrieve a lost skiff, the Coast Guard said. A life jacket belonging to Christiansen and an inflatable boat he had used to escape the sinking ship later washed up on Ocean Beach.

Saturday morning, a dog walker discovered the body in about one to two feet of water near a drainage pipe at Fort Funston, just south of Ocean Beach, according to the U.S. Park Service.

The medical examiner’s office on Sunday confirmed the body as that of Christiansen. An exact cause of death has not been determined.

Christiansen, a mechanic, had sold his San Anselmo home in recent years to members of his family, and had been living with his girlfriend in a boat in Richardson Bay off Sausalito, according to San Anselmo police Detective Cpl. Julie Gorwood.

Police there had been investigating Christiansen’s girlfriend this past week after she was arrested for trespassing in the garage of the San Anselmo home, two days after Christiansen went missing.

The girlfriend, 30-year-old Opal Merlati, was taken into custody after a one-hour standoff inside the garage April 11, police said. She was booked on charges of trespassing, criminal threats, obstructing officers and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Christiansen kept several vehicles in the garage, according to Gorwood, but one of the cars recovered there on April 12 was reported stolen out of Santa Rosa.

Gorwood said it was unknown why Merlati had come to the garage.

“She never told us what she was actually looking in there for,” Gorwood said.

Bay Area NewsCrimeCrime & CourtsFort FunstonLocalSan Francisco

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