Dozens of high school students, 2 adults from Connecticut rowing club rescued after boats capsize


Dozens of students with Connecticut rowing club rescued after boats capsize

Dozens of students with Connecticut rowing club rescued after boats capsize


WESTPORT, Conn. — Nearly 30 members of a Connecticut rowing club, including over two dozen high schoolers, were rescued from the Long Island Sound on Wednesday after their boats capsized.

Police say just before 5 p.m., three rowing sculls and one chase boat launched from Saugatuck Rowing Club in Westport. Each rowing scull carried nine rowers, all males between the ages of 14-18, and the chase boat was operated by one coach.

According to police, as the boats reached Cockenoe Island, the weather began to change and they tried to head back to the club, but two of the rowing sculls began to take on water and capsized, throwing 18 students into the water. Some of the students then swam to the chase boat and hung onto the side, which caused the chase boat to sink.

Sixteen-year-old Davis Evans was on one of the boats that capsized and had to be rescued.

“It was really scary. I’m still kinda shaken up,” he said. “It was really clean and then really right as we spun, it just, it got windy and the waves were just crashing into our boat and it was just filling up with water. It was really scary.”

Watch: Westport officials provide update on water rescue in Long Island Sound

Westport officials provide update on water rescue in Long Island Sound


Police say a second coach launched another chase boat from the rowing club and began to shuttle people to Compo Beach Marina as first responders were sent to the scene.

“We had dispatch reports that were coming from 911 calls from the actual incident on the water. So the first calls were actually from someone reported that they were in a capsized boat and in the water,” Westport Deputy Fire Chief Nicholas Marsan said.

According to police, the temperature of the water was approximately 44 degrees at the time.

“Responding units found a chaotic scene of youths swimming to shore. Some of them were arriving by boat. Some were swimming. Some were still in the water between Compo Beach and Cockenoe Island,” Westport Police Chief Foti Koskinas said. “First responders immediately began providing care to those individuals who were on shore and coordinating the recovery of people in the water.”

“When we finally got back on the beach, we had to run back on the beach towards the trucks and we were, like, falling and stuff. We couldn’t really walk. It was rough,” Davis said.

A total of 27 high school students and two adults were rescued, with at least 12 rowers being pulled out of the water by Westport Marine Police and the Westport Fire Department.

Police say the last victim was recovered from the water around 6 p.m. — somewhere between 48-52 minutes after the boats capsized.

Two students were taken to a local hospital to be treated for hypothermia. The rest of the victims were treated on the scene.

“This was truly an incredible team effort by all. By the coaches that were involved from the rowing club and by all the first responders,” Koskinas said.

When asked if he’ll be back on the water any time soon, Davis said, “Yeah, rowing is my sport. It’s what I do.”  

We reached out to Saugatuck Rowing Club, but they declined to comment.

The police chief says they’re still looking into exactly what happened out on the water. The goal of the investigation is to work with community partners to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.



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