Dramatic rescue at mouth of Tomales Bay

11/08/2012

Seven people were pulled from the chilly surf at the mouth of Tomales Bay on Sunday after a 25-foot motorboat capsized, leaving two children trapped inside the cabin of the sinking craft. Officials said none of the boaters were wearing life jackets and that the children inside the cabin, ages 6 and 8, survived thanks to an air bubble. “The stars lined up for these folks,” Battalion Chief Bill Roberts of the Marin County Fire Department, the lead agency on the rescue, said.

When the emergency call came in at around 1:30 p.m., a Sonoma County helicopter patrolling the coast for the opening of crab season was only a couple minutes away. Deputies spotted a youngster and three adults, one of them clutching a 3-year-old, clinging to the overturned boat, and began transporting them by long-line to Dillon Beach.

A Coast Guard rescue swimmer and a fire captain made contact with the children inside the cabin by tapping on the hull and calling out to them; meanwhile park rangers began towing the boat to the beach. Once ashore, firemen cut first an observation hole and then a hole large enough to pull out the kids—ages 6 and 8. All but one in the party were evaluated at Petaluma Valley Hospital and only one adult suffered minor injuries. The craft was registered in Sacramento County.

Officials estimate the boaters had been floating for roughly an hour in temperatures hovering in the 50s.