Filed Under:  U.S. & World

1 missing boater found safe after deadly storm at sea

Contributed by on April 28, 2015 at 2:20 am

Coast Guard helicopter flies over natural gas rigs in the waters of Mobile Bay off Dauphin Island, Ala., Sunday.

According to witness accounts, the storm caught the boaters off guard, starting as merely a strong but otherwise normal gust of wind – but before the yachters knew it or were able to get their boats and themselves to safety, the winds accelerated as high as 70 mph, with waves reaching 10 feet in height.

DAUPHIN ISLAND, Ala. (AP) – A sailboat skipper says the wind from a deadly storm that played havoc with a weekend race in Mobile Bay came so suddenly, it just “shot off the charts” and her boat nearly capsized.

The Coast Guard said one person initially believed missing had been found safe at home following a check of people who had registered for the race.

The weather was worse Monday than during Sunday’s search efforts, and the Coast Guard asked volunteers to stay on the shore and look for possible survivors there.

Another round of strong storms forced authorities to suspend air and water searches on Monday, but officials encouraged anyone who was willing to walk along the shore looking for signs of the missing. “The boat’s being tossed around”.

Clare is covering a sad story in Etowah County, where a member of the Etowah County Rescue Squad died in the line of duty.At 5 a.m., she’s interviewing the assistant chief of the Gadsden Fire Department about the treacherous waters that caused two rescue boats to flip upside down.

On shore, about 20 relatives of the missing gathered at the state-run Dauphin Sea Lab to await word of loved ones.

“We were just finishing the race and the wind picked up”.

“This very difficult, very difficult for all of them, ” said Michael Brown of the American Red Cross. The National Weather Service issued a special marine warning for boaters about an hour before the deluge, but many sailors didn’t consider skies threatening.

At least one of the five missing individuals was not involved with the regatta, a Coast Guard spokesperson told the AL.com news site.

The storm hit around 4:30 pm on Saturday in the midst of the 57th annual Dauphin Bay regatta, an event hosted by one of the four yacht clubs located there on a rotating basis each year. Sailboats ranging from small catamarans to single-hull craft capable of carrying a half-dozen people or more race southward through the shallow waters toward Dauphin Island, a barrier island on Alabama’s coast.

Storms put search for four boaters missing in Alabama waters on hold