Two victims killed after a sailboat capsized near Shelter Island on Sunday, pitching 10 people into the water have been identified as a father and his son.
“Although this is a significant tragedy for San Diego with the loss of two lives, it was the heroism of good Samaritans and Harbor Police officers and San Diego firefighters that led to the rescue of eight people in a very dangerous situation,” said San Diego Harbor Police Chief John Bolduc.
Chao Chen, 73, and his son Jun Chen, 40, died when the 26-foot sailboat overturned Sunday around 5:12 p.m. between Harbor Island and Shelter Island. Eight others were injured.
Ten people were onboard at the time, including two children aged 9 and 11 and two young adults with special needs, according to Harbor Police. Seven of the victims were from the same family.
“Both families who were part of this voyage were from San Diego,” said Bolduc.
All of the victims were thrown into the water when the vessel overturned.
“We have no evidence that the vessel collided with another vessel or any other object,” said Bolduc.
Harbor police took a number of victims to the Shelter Island boat launch ramp. Witnesses say paramedics tried to resuscitate the men by giving them CPR for roughly 30 minutes.
Four adults - a 45-year-old woman, a 50-year-old man, a 30-year-old man and a 57-year-old man - were transported to UCSD Medical Center. Their injuries were described as mainly bumps and bruises.
Another adult and two children were taken to Mercy Hospital, according to officials. The 49-year-old woman, 11-year-old boy and 9-year-old girl were not seriously injured.
Another woman got to the hospital Sunday night, after getting there on her own, said officials. She was apparently uninjured.
A language barrier delayed the response of emergency crews immediately following the accident. Crews called for a translator to arrive to the scene so they could get the information they needed to treat the victims, Luque said.
“[The survivors] were understandably shaken, so they were shivering,” added Luque. “They were cold, they had hypothermia from being in the water.”
Hundreds of people gathered on the shore in shock, trying to make sense of the incident.
Exactly why or even how the boat overturned is still unclear. Part of the investigation led officials underwater, to the area where the boat sank.
The boat is in drydock at the Shelter Island Boatyard.
Harbor police say a non-profit company operated “Nessie”.
“It was a voyage, or a tour if you will, operated by this non-profit entity, which is not from San Diego. The operator of the vessel is from Southern California by Laguna. The vessel is registered to a company out of Indiana,” said Bolduc.
Harbor police are asking witnesses to contact them as they investigate what went wrong.
“We interviewed several witnesses who said they saw the sailboat overturn. We are investigating the cause of that at this point,” said Bolduc.
The investigation is expected to take several weeks.