2 Dead, 5 Missing as Freak Squall Hits Regatta

Sailing event turns deadly in Alabama
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 26, 2015 10:07 AM CDT
Updated Apr 26, 2015 1:36 PM CDT
"We knew we were totally lost at sea," said regatta participant Rhonda Morgan Gilreath, right, shown with her boyfriend Randy Rutledge of Rome Ga., Saturday, April 25, 2015, in Dauphin Island, Ala.   (Mike Kittrell)
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(Newser) – Two people are dead and Coast Guard crews are continuing their search this morning for at least five people missing in the water after a sudden and powerful storm capsized several sailboats participating in a regatta near Mobile Bay, Ala. The storm rolled through the area about 4pm yesterday and NPR reports that winds quickly went from 15 knots to 50. One body was found yesterday and another this morning. "Apparently there were a number of vessels that became distressed, either capsized or what have you," Dauphin Island Mayor Jeff Collier told Al.com. "They were scattered anywhere from Dauphin Island Bridge all the way out into Mobile Bay and across to Fort Morgan. It was a wide area."

More than 100 sailboats and as many as 200 people were participating in the Dauphin Island regatta in Mobile Bay. "It's been a very tragic day," Michael Smith, with the Buccaneer yacht club, told WSFA-TV. "We've had a lot of breakage, missing people, fatalities." Susan Kangal, who was on a boat, told WSFA it was the worst storm that she has seen. "We were probably an inch from capsizing; everybody was ready to jump. I didn't have a life jacket on," she said. The boats were part of the 57th iteration of the race. Officials say about 40 people were rescued from the bay yesterday; one man was rescued from the water by the Coast Guard around 9pm, Petty officer Carlos Vega said.

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