19 plunge into frigid Long Island Sound after Connecticut rowing club mishap

Rowing club boats capsized during a fast change in weather off Connecticut on Wednesday, sending 18 teenagers and one adult coach into the cold waters of Long Island Sound, police and fire officials said. Two people were brought to a hospital with suspected hypothermia.

First responders said they came upon a chaotic scene off the coast of Westport shortly after 5 p.m., as some of the people in the water were swimming to shore and others were trying to get into other boats. Police and firefighters from Westport and nearby towns responded, as did the Coast Guard.


Two sculling boats with the private Saugatuck Rowing Club capsized as the water became rough during a weather change, sending 18 people into waters off Compo Beach, Westport Police Chief Foti Koskinas said at an evening news conference. The people in the water tried to get on a third, larger boat, causing it to sink and sending one more person into the water, police said.

A beach in Southport, Connecticut overlooking the Long Island Sound. (Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge/Getty Images)

First responders used boats to rescue many of the people, while others were able to swim ashore.

“This was a very serious incident with an incredibly good outcome,” Koskinas said.

The teens, all male, ranged in age from 14 to 18. Everyone was out of the water and safe within about 50 minutes, Koskinas said. The water temperature in Long Island Sound was about 44 degrees, he said.

The teens were put on a school bus to get warm and were picked up by their parents, he said.

Authorities said they were investigating why the boats capsized, with the goal of preventing similar incidents.

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