ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — A fun day planned with pleasant weather took a scary and dangerous turn as strong winds blew over several sail boats near Annapolis. In all, 22 people were tossed in the water, prompting rescue efforts by the Coast Guard and other agencies.
A cell phone video taken by a witness captures a day out on the Severn River, but as winds pick up the activities turns to a panic as gusts of wind overturns 15 laser sailboats out for a Severn Sailing Association event.
The minutes potentially feeling like hours as people are tossed from their sailboat.
“And what you could see, was these tiny little black specks of a person in their dry suit, trying to get out of the water,” says witness Stuart White.
White, also a sailor, says he was inside nearby when he saw people struggling to keep their sailboats from overturning. One by one, sailors losing the fight against the recorded 40-mile-an-hour winds around Severn River.
“Made me very nervous that possibly someone died in this, but thank goodness there was no one who died, so very happy about that,” says White.
According to the Maryland Natural Resources Police, all 22 people — ranging in age from 16 to 70 — on the 15 sailboats were rescued.
White says even with those wetsuits on, it doesn’t fully prevent your body getting wet or extremely cold.
“There were a lot of boats out there going after them, so that was good,” says White.
White says he believes those thrown from the boat were in the freezing water for at least 30 minutes before they were all rescued.
“To me as a sailor, it was extremely scary. Being out there if it’s like 80 degrees, that’s not a problem, but it’s super cold; the wind was howling,” says White.
It is said the temperature of the water surrounding the area was 42 degrees, which is extremely dangerous temperatures for people in the water.
Fortunately, none of the people rescued needed medical attention.