USA

14 boat passengers rescued as vessel sinks off Newport Harbor

Fourteen people are safe after a dramatic rescue from a sinking boat off the coast of Newport Beach on Sunday.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department Harbor Patrol received a call that the boat, a 41-foot Carver vessel, was taking on water outside the entrance to Newport Harbor around 2:45 p.m., officials said.

When deputies arrived, a good Samaritan boat was trying to tow the vessel, but it was sinking quickly and was almost submerged, according to the Sheriff’s Department, which provides law enforcement up to three miles off the coast in Orange County.

Video shared by sheriff’s officials shows passengers jumping into choppy water as rescue boats arrived. The boaters were saved by Harbor Patrol, Newport Beach lifeguards and good Samaritan vessels, officials said.

The cause of the sinking is under investigation, Orange County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Carrie Braun said Monday, noting that officials plan to contact the people who were on board to “try to understand what happened right prior to when the boat started taking on water.”

“The first priority yesterday was to get everyone back to the Harbor Patrol office and make sure everyone was accounted for,” she said. “There will be additional follow-up.”

It was not immediately clear who owned the boat, which is now under more than 100 feet of water, Braun said. The investigation may require the vessel to be raised by an outside agency.

Newport Beach Lifeguard battalion Chief Brian O’Rourke said the incident happened about a quarter-mile outside the harbor entrance.

“It was a distance that was far enough that it could have resulted in a tragedy” had other boats not been nearby, he said.

Although all 14 passengers were rescued safely, O’Rourke said it was a good reminder to be aware of limitations and know the local waters before heading out to sea. Boaters who find themselves in a similar situation should immediately put on life jackets and call for help, he said. When rescuers arrive, let them know right away whether anyone is missing.

“They were all rescued, and there were no injuries,” O’Rourke said, “so that was a good outcome to a potentially life-threatening situation.”

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