'We need help.' 911 call alerts Westport police 3 capsized boats in Long Island Sound

Westport Police Lt. Eric Woods say the situation could have been worse due to the water and air temperatures and many kids were in the water for 30 to 45 minutes.

Mark Sudol

Mar 21, 2024, 4:58 PM

Updated 24 days ago

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Westport police are investigating the three boats from the Saugatuck rowing club that capsized near Compo Beach Wednesday night, involving over 20 teens.
Some needed to be rescued from the freezing waters of the Long Island Sound.
Police say a third rowing scull still has to be pulled out of the water at Compo Beach.
Two of the sculls have been located.
Police say two of the rowers who were being treated for hypothermia have been released from Norwalk Hospital.
They say this is a scary situation that could have been much worse.
The 911 call that came over said: "16 kids are in the Long Island Sound. We need help. The Westport area off Compo."
"I called 911," said Davis Evans, from the Saugatuck Rowing Club.
Evans was one of the rowers who went into the water.
"Really, two or three feet swells that were crashing into the boat. We really weren't prepared for it because it was really glass water before that," said Evans.
Westport police say the water was dangerously cold.
"It was 44 degrees out yesterday approximately, and the water temperature was approximately 40 degrees. You put 20 some people in the water out there and we start getting concerned," said Westport Police Lt. Eric Woods.
A total of 19 people went into the water - some of them for 40 minutes.
All of them got out safely.
A chase boat with crew from the Saugatuck Rowing Club was also able to get people to shore.
"With three fire personnel, and they were able to follow that chase boat back to the exact location of the individuals in the water, which saved a lot of time. So. the coach, the rowing coach that was driving that chase boat, really is a hero as well," said Westport Fire Deputy Chief Nicholas Marsan.
Crews from four surrounding towns, plus a Coast Guard helicopter from Cape Cod, assisted Westport crews in the rescue.
"Such a testament to the cohesiveness and the teamwork of Westport's three emergency response agencies," said Marsan.
Police are investigating safety precautions.
"The investigation is not being conducted to point fingers or place blame. It's really a way for us to identify what and how things went wrong so that we can prevent it from happening again in the future," said Marsan.
The Saugatuck Rowing Club has not responded to News 12's request for comment.
The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection says racing shells and rowing sculls don't require any personal flotation devices.
The vessel itself is considered a flotation device.


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