A dragon boat overturned on Lake Washington Thursday evening, sending 17 people into the water.
Carrie Carson and Lori Robb are used to seeing long, narrow “dragon boats” in front of their lakeside home nearly every weeknight. But the one that paddled by Thursday evening began to sink suddenly as the two women were having dinner with Robb’s parents.
The boat was carrying 17 people, nearly all of them teenagers.
Carson and Robb watched as it capsized about 100 yards from the west end of the Interstate 90 bridge on Lake Washington just before 7:30 p.m. A sudden wind was to blame. The water was smooth one minute, Carson said, but full of whitecaps the next.
“The boat really got pummeled,” said Carson.
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Robb’s parents called 911 as Carson and Robb grabbed the keys to their 25-foot speedboat and raced to the rescue. Carson, who works for a management consultant firm, and Robb, who works for Microsoft, helped 12 of the teens on board their boat.
“Some of the kids didn’t know how to swim, but they had life vests on,” Carson said. “We stayed with the boat until the Seattle police boat showed up.”
Seattle police pulled out the other five boaters, who were more experienced swimmers and had remained with the capsized boat.
Dragon boats are colorful crafts with dragon heads on their prows and tails on their sterns. This boat belonged to the Seattle Sake Dragon Boat Club at Leschi Marina, and its paddlers were preparing to compete in a race Saturday in Kent, said Seattle Fire Department spokesman Kyle Moore.
“They were a little cold, but they were all fine,” Moore said.
Carson and Robb turned up the heat to 85 degrees in their house and provided towels and blankets while rescue personnel checked the boaters.
A second dragon boat had capsized earlier in front of the marina, but all of the paddlers on that boat easily made it to shore.