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1 rescued, 1 dead after boat capsizes

November 27, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
The U.S. Coast Guard worked desperately to save two sailors, knocked from their boat by the rough seas off Half Moon Bay this evening. The sailboat accident happened just before dark off pillar point.

With high winds along the coast, rescue crews were up against some tough conditions while rescuing two men. They managed to save one man, but one man did not survive.

Rescue crews towed the 34-foot sailboat, the Sunyata, back to Pillar Point Harbor. Witnesses knew something was wrong with the vessel, when they saw flares off the coast of Half Moon Bay.

"About a half mile out that way where the helicopter is right now, there was a sailboat that was dead in the water, sails were down, and it obviously wasn't moving. And it was sending up flares. I saw three sets of flares," said Matthew Kendall, a witness.

It turned out, the two men on board got knocked into the water. No one knows why they're out in the ocean in the first place considering the high surf advisory.

"Apparently a large wave hit them, knocked the boat, the sailboat, which knocked it half way over. One of the people got tossed into the water and one of them was able to get back on the boat," said Deputy Harbor Master Cary Smith.

That person who got back on the boat was taken away by ambulance, but is expected to be okay. He didn't need medical treatment when they brought him back to shore.

The other person however wasn't so lucky. Rescue crews performed CPR but could not revive him. He was wearing a life vest, but was in the frigid water for about an hour.

"The helicopter dropped a buoy into the water to check wich way the currents were going and they kind of used that to guide them which way to search and they did find the person," said CALFIRE Batt. Chief David Cosgrave.

The Pillar Point harbor master says this accident should serve as a reminder that people should avoid the water during high surf advisories. Rescue crews say the waves out there this evening were as high as 12 to 14 feet.

"I'm six foot, that's double me, and when it crests that can be up to a 25 foot face you're looking at. The top of our boat is 8 feet so we can't even so over the next wave," said Smith.

The high surf advisory started at 10 a.m. Friday morning and has been extended until Saturday 4 p.m.


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