Two children who were trapped inside an overturned boat were among
seven people rescued from Tomales Bay just south of Bodega Bay this
afternoon, according to rescuers.
The 25-foot pleasure craft, which is owned by an Elk Grove, Calif. resident, capsized near the mouth of Tomales Bay shortly before 1:30 p.m., triggering calls to several agencies, according to Marin County Fire Department Battalion Chief Mike Giannini.
A Sonoma County Sheriff's Office rescue helicopter arrived first on the scene, to find five people, three adults and two children, clinging to the hull of the overturned boat, Giannini said.
The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office Helicopter Unit (Henry-1) along with the Sheriff's Office Marine Unit responded to an overturned boat in the surf at the mouth of Tomales Bay just south of Bodega Bay.
Both units were focusing their patrols on the area because this weekend is opening day of recreational crab season. Personnel from the US Coast Guard, the National Park Service (Rescue-29), Marin County Fire Department, and the Bodega Bay Fire Department also responded.
The Helicopter Unit arrived in less than two minutes and found four people clinging to an overturned boat; one of them was holding a 3-year- old child. None were wearing life jackets. Sheriff's Pilot Paul Bradley landed on a nearby beach along with Deputy Sheriff Debbie Little and prepared for a long-line rescue.
The helicopter rescued the 3-year-old first, and then brought the others to shore, one by one.
These five persons were long-lined to a nearby beach and turned them over to Marin County Fire Department personnel. The rescue of the first five took approximately nine minutes.
During the rescue, it was learned that two more children were trapped under the overturned boat. Due to the heavy surf, rescue personnel were unable to access the underside of the boat.
A U.S. Coast Guard rescue swimmer and a Marin County fire captain were able to make contact with the children and determine they were still alive and uninjured by tapping on the hull and calling to them, Giannini said.
A National Park Service rescue boat then towed the capsized boat to the shore near Dillon's Beach. Firefighters were able to cut a hole in the hull there to talk to the children, and then cut a larger hole to get them out, Giannini said.
The children who had been trapped were taken by helicopter to Petaluma Valley Hospital. Two adults and two other children were also taken there by ground ambulance. One male adult suffered a minor injury and all the boaters were evaluated for hypothermia.
No one on the capsized boat appeared to have been wearing a life jacket, Giannini said. It is unclear what caused the boat to capsize.
"These folks are very lucky to be alive today," Giannini said.
The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office reminds everyone about the importance of wearing life jackets.
Responding units included Marin County fire, the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office, the Coast Guard and the Bodega Bay, Petaluma and Tomales fire