Fire official: 4 lucky to be alive after boat capsized
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Four people were recovering Friday after their sailboat capsized and crashed into a California pier in a dramatic scene captured on video by multiple witnesses.
The captain of the boat and another man were taken to the hospital after the wreck Thursday evening, one with a dislocated shoulder and the other complaining of back pain, said Rob Rappaport, a division chief at the Redondo Beach Fire Department.
At least one of the men also had bad cuts, while a third man and a woman were treated and released at the beach, Rappaport said.
They were lucky to be alive, considering how violently they were tossed into the pier, he said.
Video of the wreck posted online shows the group struggling to raise the boat’s sail in heavy winds. The wind continues to push the vessel closer and closer to the pier, until one strong wave slams it into the pier’s wooden pilings. All four people on board are thrown into the water, narrowly missing the pilings, and the boat broke in half.
“It shook the pier,” said Jason Wells, who was riding his electric unicycle on the pier when he saw the boat struggling and decided to shoot video.
“It hit the pilings with a lot of force, and I was almost on top of it,” Wells said Friday. “It was loud, and I was worried about the people at that point ... I’m really surprised there weren’t more injuries.”
In another video that captured the wreck, people hanging out at a bar near the pier can be heard shouting and cursing as the boat crashes. One man says, “What the hell do we do?” and “Should we, like, go out there and help them or something?”
The woman who captured that video, Sophia Sabawi, said it was a terrifying scene.
“As I saw it capsize, my heart sank,” she said. “The whole place was screaming out because we were so far away we couldn’t do anything. We felt so helpless.”
She said she was thankful to hear everyone survived.
“They were super lucky,” Sabawi said. “There was someone on their side because it could have been a lot worse.”
Wells’ video captured people on the shore going out into the water to help those who were in the boat. Rescuers responding to 911 calls about the boat also helped them to shore, Rappaport said.
All four appeared shell-shocked after the wreck, he said.
“All four of them were just stunned and in disbelief,” Rappaport said. “They weren’t speaking a tremendous amount, and you could just see in their faces that it had been a significant experience for them.”
High winds throughout Southern California toppled trees and downed power lines Thursday, damaging cars and structures and causing electrical outages. A gale whipped up heavy seas along the coast. Two people were injured in Palm Springs when heavy winds knocked down a tree that fell on top of their golf cart and trapped them.