The weather was calm and "beautiful" when a group of kayakers set out paddling near Washington state's Dungeness Bay on Saturday, USA Today reports. Then, suddenly, as the church group of seven headed back from lunch at a lighthouse on Dungeness Spit, the wind picked up. "Within 10 minutes I couldn't see anybody or another kayaker anywhere," says group member Dennis Caines. Video shows a kayak "pitching and rolling" in three-foot waves caused by 35mph winds as the group scatters and some boats capsize; one woman can be heard screaming for everyone to head back to shore. In the end, just four kayakers swam or paddled to shore. Two others died, and one remains in serious condition, after their kayaks overturned; a sheriff's sergeant estimates they were in 49-degree water for one to two hours.
"I can’t tell you exactly what happened, because we couldn’t see," Caines tells the Seattle Times. "But it was extremely windy. It came up all of sudden, and we weren’t ready for it." Adds wife Linda to USA Today, "It just feels unreal, people we were friends with, that were there, and then they weren't." Jacob Austin, 52, and Mandi Walkley, 39, died; William Kelley, 50, was injured, but his condition was upgraded from critical to serious. Everyone in the group, which had gone on hiking trips together as part of the Mountain View Church of the Nazarene's hiking club, was wearing a life jacket, but the sheriff's sergeant says many were wearing only cotton clothing even though a storm had been predicted. Caines admits the others "probably could’ve been dressed a little better" (he and his wife wore wetsuits), but notes that they were in "17-foot sea kayaks with rudders, rain skirts, and pumps" when tragedy struck.