One person has been confirmed dead while other sailors are still unaccounted for after a fierce squall struck an annual Mobile Bay regatta. Families of the missing sailors have gathered at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab to await word on their loved ones, as searchers continue to comb through the area for anyone possibly still in the water.
As of 11:30 pm., the last known individual to be rescued from the water was 18-year-old Lennard Luiten, who was rescued around 9:30 pm. After six hours in the Mobile Bay, his father reported. According to Robert Luiten, there are still two members of the five-person crew who are unaccounted for.
The U.S. Coast Guard has confirmed four individuals total were still missing, although it is unclear whether those people are actually missing or still in the water, or were rescued by other parties aside from the U.S. Coast Guard and haven’t been reunited yet with their families.
Several sailors who spoke with AL.com spoke of the harrowing tales of how an “absolute beautiful day for sailing” ended up turning into a nightmare in just a few seconds.
The storm, which moved into the area at more than 50 knots, broke masts of boats , shredded sails, and sank several vessels, sending many people in the warm Mobile Bay waters, AL.com reported. One sailor said he saw two boats collide due to the gale, which is recalls was “almost like a 30-minute hurricane.”
“I’m just devastated,” Robert Luiten, who went overboard along with his son said of their three fellow sailors who are still unaccounted for.
— Chris Baskind (@chrisbaskind) April 26, 2015
The Luitens, along with many others, gathered together to wait for more details about the unaccounted for at the DI Sea Lab’s Shelby building.
“Everything that is available is out,” Mobile County Sheriff’s Chaplain Joey Turman said.