NEW YORK (AP) — Nineteen people were dumped into the chilly waters of New York City’s East River when their dragon boat overturned, but lifejackets prevented any injuries.
The Coast Guard said the wooden dragon boat from the Azumi Rowing Club was completely submerged by the time rescue crews arrived on the scene near Queens. The call came in around 1:40 p.m. Sunday, the New York Fire Department said.
Dragon boats are Chinese-designed boats propelled by paddles and commonly used for racing.
FDNY Lt. Robert Greer was on one of the rescue boats. “We started plucking them out of the water one by one. By the time we had everybody on it was 19 persons, which is an awful lot of people,” he told WCBS-TV.
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The rescue took only minutes and the boaters were taken to the College Point Yacht Club where they were examined by EMS crews.
“Everyone kept their cool. I think that’s what really kept us together. Everyone keeping their cool and nobody panicked,” rower Louis Idarraga told WABC-TV. “It wasn’t that cold, but it was cold enough that we were in there long enough that it was starting to get cold.”
One of the racers had asked his girlfriend to marry him just before the boat capsized.
CBS radio station 1010 WINS reported that Franklin Chiu proposed to his girlfriend Vicky Lee as the team paddled toward the Whitestone Bridge. When the boat overturned, he managed to hang onto the ring. Once on shore, he had both the ring and a fiancee.