Search resumes for 5 missing Alabama boaters
DAUPHIN ISLAND, Ala. (WKRG) — Search and rescue efforts are resuming for five missing boaters after a strong thunderstorm caused chaos for sailboats taking part in the annual Dauphin Island Regatta.
As of Sunday morning, one person is confirmed dead, one person has been rescued by the Coast Guard, and five people are unaccounted for following the storms striking Mobile Bay.
The Coast Guard and other agencies first began receiving reports that the strong storms capsized boats and scattered its passengers in the bay around 4:30 p.m.
Search and rescue efforts were immediately launched, followed by the discovery of one body. Authorities have not released the identity of the person who died, or the exact cause of death.
The U.S. Coast Guard found and rescued the one survivor floating near Dauphin Island at 9 p.m. Saturday.
In total, dozens of people were rescued by fellow boaters in the immediate aftermath of the storm.
As of Sunday morning, the missing person total was believed to be four after the one boater was rescued. However Coast Guard officials made a clarification later Sunday morning, telling News 5 that the missing person count still stands at five.
WKRG spoke to two boaters who were in the water for two hours, clinging to a life cushion.
Randy Rutledge and his wife say they’re grateful for their lives after finally being spotted and rescued.
“I said, ‘Jesus, calm the waters,’” Rutledge told WKRG. “And the storm subsided just enough that I could keep my head up and not drink too much salt water, but I had no choice but to hang on to that cushion because I had to find her.”
There were reports that one sailboat had collided with the Dauphin Island Bridge. Shortly after that report came news that there were several boats, capsized in the rough waters.
Sean Brown of the Pensacola Yacht Club sent WKRG a video showing waves breaking over the bow of his boat and whitecaps in Mobile Bay.