Belvedere boy killed, father arrested in boating accident
A prominent land developer was arrested at his Corinthian Island home after a fatal boating accident near Angel Island that killed his 11-year-old son and severely injured the boy’s older brother.
The brothers were reportedly ejected from the boat and then struck by it when their father attempted to rescue them.
Javier A. Burillo, 57, of Belvedere was booked into Marin County Jail on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter with a vessel, willful harm or injury to a child and reckless operation of a vessel. Police say Burillo had been drinking, and a boating death becomes legally non-accidental when the operator is suspected to be under the influence of alcohol.
Burillo’s bail has been set at $1 million.
Police say that about 7 p.m. Sept. 15, Burillo called 911 to report an injured and unresponsive 11-year-old boy on a boat docked at the Corinthian Yacht Club.
The boy and his 27-year-old half-brother had been thrown from a 33-foot Targa Protector in rough waters near Angel Island as they were crossing from San Francisco, Tiburon Police Chief Mike Cronin said.
During recovery, the boat — a hard-hulled inflatable with twin outboard motors — struck the two victims, Cronin said.
The 27-year-old was able to help the boat’s operator, identified by police as their father, Burillo, recover the 11-year-old from the water.
Tiburon Fire Protection District paramedics and the Belvedere police were the first to arrive at the docks of the Corinthian Yacht Club, where Burillo is a member and has a slip, and found the brothers on a slip close to the parking lot. The 11-year-old was pronounced dead, and his older brother was taken to Marin General Hospital with severe leg lacerations.
Tiburon police took over the investigation and found Burillo at his Bellevue Avenue house at the tip of Corinthian Island. It was unclear at press time whether Burillo had left the boys so he could place the 911 call.
“He was grief-stricken but completely cooperative,” Cronin said in an interview.
“I really cannot imagine his grief,” Cronin said.
Cronin said that police officers at the scene administered a breath test and determined Burillo had been drinking, and his blood-alcohol concentration was over the .08 limit for operating a boat. The exact result was not available at press time.
Investigators say it’s unclear whether the two sons were wearing life jackets when they were thrown from the boat. Burillo and his sons were the only people aboard.
Cronin said no witnesses to the incident have yet been identified.
The exact cause and manner of the boy’s death will be determined through a post-mortem examination and toxicology test, and the results are expected to be released later this week, Cronin said.
Several Marin sheriff’s deputies were at the Burillo home on Sept. 16 but declined to say whether they were executing a search, adding only that they were there as part of the investigation.
In addition to the Tiburon Police Department and Marin County Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Coast Guard is also investigating the incident.
Burillo, also known as Javier Burillo Azcarraga, is a well-known real-estate developer in Mexico and the U.S. who reportedly owns some 18 restaurants and is the developer of Las Ventanas al Paraiso, an award-winning resort in San Jose del Cabo on Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. The Azcarraga family is one of the wealthiest in Mexico and owns Televisa, the primary TV network in Mexico and reportedly the largest producer and broadcaster of Spanish-language media in the world.
News of the incident drew Bay Area and Spanish-language news vans and helicopters to Belvedere’s shores through the day Sept. 16.
Azita Mujica-Beavers, who lives on Eastview Avenue overlooking the Corinthian Yacht Club, said she’s known Burillo and his family in Mexico for decades. She described Burillo as a “very good family man.”
“He is a wonderful man, he loves his children,” she said. “This must have been a horrible nightmare accident. The fact they are holding him (in jail) is insane.”
Though her home is perched directly above the Corinthian parking lot, Mujica-Beavers said she didn’t get home until 10 p.m. Sunday night and didn’t witness the police response. She spoke to members of Burillos’ extended family on Monday, who said the 27-year-old son was going to need surgery on his knee.
“I’m very close to the family, and I know how much (Burillo) adored his kids,” she said.
She said the elder son’s mother lives in Mexico and was flying in Sept. 16.
Burillo and the younger boy’s mother, Rose, had been married for 20 years but recently separated, pending a divorce case filed in Marin Superior Court in April.
Mujica-Beavers said Burillo and his family moved to Corinthian Island about 15 years ago. They had also owned a home in Kenwood.
Rose Burillo recently moved into a rental home in Paradise Cay.
The boy, who had special needs, had been attending Escuela Bilingue Internacional in Emeryville for two years but was recently being home-schooled.
3 p.m. Sept. 16: This story has been updated.
4:05 p.m. Sept. 16: This story has been updated.
Reporter Hannah Weikel covers the city of Belvedere, as well as crime, courts and public safety issues on the Tiburon Peninsula. Reach her at 415-944-4627.