They were traveling the world spreading their faith.
An Escondido woman, the daughter of an American killed by Somali pirates off East Africa Tuesday has thanked the military for risking their lives to try and save her father.
Scott Adam and his wife, Jean, of Orange County along with Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle, both of Seattle were shot and killed by their captors just days after being hijacked near the coast of Oman.
The deaths are the first time U.S. citizens have been killed in a wave of pirate attacks plaguing the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean for years.
Emily Sem, Scott Adam's daughter, lives in the North County. Although she did not speak to the media, asking for privacy in her grief, she did issue a statement thanking those who tried to rescue the passengers of the yacht.
The U.S. Central Command said negotiations had been underway Tuesday to try to win release of the two couples on the pirated vessel Quest.
A rocket-propelled grenade was fired from the yacht at the San Diego-based destroyer, USS Sterett, located about 600 yards (meters) away.
The RPG missed and almost immediately afterward small arms fire was heard coming from the yacht, officials said.
U.S. naval forces, quickly boarded the vessel after hearing gunfire on board and tried to provide lifesaving care to the Americans, but they died of their wounds, the U.S. Central Command said in a statement from Tampa, Fla.
Two pirates died during the confrontation and 13 were captured and detained, the U.S. Central Command said. The remains of two other pirates who were already dead for some time were also found. The U.S. military didn't state how those two might have died.
Late Tuesday, the Sem family issued the following statement:
"Our loved ones were tragically taken from us and our hearts are broken. While we wish to grieve in private, we would like to express our deepest gratitude to the brave men and women of the Navy and other military branches who risked their lives trying to save them. We would also like to thank the FBI and State Department for their swift and kind treatment of this matter. Our hearts also go out to the families of Bob Riggle and Phyllis Macay. We cannot thank you all enough. In our time of loss, we ask the media to please respect our right to privacy and not contact us at this time. We do not anticipate issuing any further statements in this matter, at this time. God bless each and every one of you."
A friend and former professor of Scott Adam said Sunday that Adam wanted to combine his love of adventure with his faith by spreading bibles around the world.
Adam, in his mid-60s, had been an associate producer in Hollywood when he turned in a spiritual direction and enrolled in the seminary a decade ago.
Since 2004, the Adams lived on their yacht in Marina Del Rey for about half the year and the rest of the year they sailed around the world, often distributing Bibles in remote parts of the Fiji Islands, Alaska, New Zealand, Central America and French Polynesia, Johnston said.