As the weather alert pinged on cell phones, regatta organizers and first responders saw the danger in stark relief: A powerful thunderstorm suddenly bubbled up over New York City and was barreling along the East River toward Long Island Sound where roughly 400 young sailors, ages 12 to 17, were participating in Larchmont Yacht Club’s Junior Race Week.
It was 1:18 in the afternoon, Wednesday July 17thas clear summer skies instantly darkened and winds became treacherous.
“I was amazed at how quickly at hit,” said Lt. Tony Martin of the Larchmont Fire Department. He and fellow fire officer Lt. Alex Augburg were riding shotgun on the event alongside Coast Guard craft and a small armada of coaching and safety boats.
“The wind was so strong several of the sailing boats capsized, kids were in the water, staff members and rescue boats were there in seconds getting them to safety. Several of the teen crews were able to right their own boats, but some were still bobbing in their lifejackets as lighting began hitting the water.”
It was frightening, but Lt. Martin says he was impressed with how briskly the adults with the regatta sprang into action. The sailors were examined on shore; Three of them, all visitors from Long Island, complained “tingling in the extremities,” from the electricity in the water. One girl was transported by ambulance to a local hospital for examination. It appears there no were serious injuries.
The emergency was over so quickly no distress call was ever issued from the scene. Ambulance crews had been standing by on shore