Seven people were rescued Sunday afternoon from a boat owned by an Elk Grove resident after it overturned in Tomales Bay, trapping two children inside the small cabin.
Sgt. Ed Hoener of the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office Helicopter Unit said the air unit along with the sheriff's Marine Unit responded at 1:28 p.m. to a report of an overturned boat in the surf at the mouth of Tomales Bay, just south of Bodega Bay. The units were patrolling the area because it was the opening weekend of the recreational crab season.
The helicopter unit arrived in less the two minutes and found four people clinging to an overturned boat. One was holding a 3-year-old child, and none was wearing a life jacket, Hoener said.
He said the helicopter landed on a nearby beach, and a sheriff's deputy prepared for a long-line rescue. The deputy, suspended on a line, was flown out to the boat and one by one the individuals clinging to the boat were attached to the line and flown to shore, where they were turned over to Marin County Fire Department personnel.
During the rescue, Hoener said, it was learned that two more children, ages 6 and 8, were trapped beneath the overturned boat. Because of the heavy surf, rescuers were unable to get to the underside of the boat. He said personnel from the National Park Service arrived with their rescue boat and towed the overturned boat to a safer location out of the surf, where they were able to cut through the hull and free the children.
Hoener said the youngsters were inside the small cabin of the approximately 24-foot boat and were able to survive thanks to an air pocket.
Six of the seven people were transported to Petaluma Valley Hospital where they were treated and released. A seventh person declined to go to the hospital, Hoener said. The names of the rescued passengers were not available.
The incident could easily have turned tragic, Hoener said, stressing that it is important that everyone on board a boat wear a life jacket.
He said the incident occurred in Marin County, near the Sonoma County line, and is being investigated by the Marin County Sheriff's Office and the U.S. Coast Guard.