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Industry veteran Phyllis Macay among victims on hijacked yacht

Worked with retailers at Profitability Consulting Group

Heath E. Combs -- Furniture Today, February 22, 2011

HIGH POINT — U.S. Central Command is reporting today that all four American hostages on the pirated vessel Quest were killed by their Somali captors while negotiations were ongoing for their release.

Industry veteran Phyllis Macay, who was on sabbatical from her job as vice president of training development for Profitability Consulting Group, which has worked with many furniture retailers, was among the passengers reported earlier to be onboard the yacht.

Macay was a veteran of the industry's educational seminar circuit at trade shows, where she discussed sales training and ways to bring customers into stores.

Despite immediate steps to provide lifesaving care, all four hostages ultimately died of their wounds, Central Command said in a press release.

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

During the boarding of the Quest U.S. forces were engaged by the pirates, the release said.

Two pirates died during the confrontation and 13 were captured and detained along with two pirates already in U.S. custody. They also found the remains of two other pirates already dead aboard the Quest.

Four U.S. Navy warships had been monitoring the Quest for three days.

Furniture/Today spoke with John Egger, a friend of Macay and CEO of Profitability Consulting Group, on Monday, before it was reported that the hostages had been slain by their captors. He confirmed that she had requested a sabbatical about three years ago to "go sailing for a year or two and it shifted into three years and now this."

Egger said he has followed Macay's travels around the world via the Web and was last in contact with her last year.

"She let us know she was having a ball and (her sabbatical) would be extended and probably be another year," Egger said.

He described Macay as independent, vivacious, energetic and strong.

A website documenting Macay's travels, with entries and photos dating to 2009, can be found at www.gaiaworldtour.net.

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