The good Samaritans who saved several people in a water rescue Wednesday afternoon off of Wareham, Massachusetts, say it was a dramatic and emotional experience.
"I've never seen a rescue like this," said Wim Jessup, a co-captain on the Disco Volante.
Jessup and his crew were on an advanced sailing course from Connecticut to Maine. They had just practiced water rescues before having to perform one.
"I saw an overturned haul, and people waving their arms screaming," said Jessup. "I turned to [the captain] and said, 'We have a serious emergency.'"
Captain Martin Van Breems said they saw an overturned boat, with nine children and three adults calling out for help.
"They were frantic, and desperate," he said. "It was fortunate that we were there, and we knew how to get them on the boat safely, in rough conditions."
Both Jessup and Van Breems say the conditions on the Cape Cod Canal that afternoon were rough. Strong winds and currents created large waves.
Van Breems said based on the beach items he saw floating around the boat, the families in the overturned boat were trying to have a relaxing day of recreation. He does not believe the boat was overloaded with people — he just thinks they weren't prepared for the rough conditions. He did see every person in the water wearing a life jacket.
While the Coast Guard is calling them good Samaritans, who may have saved their lives, the crew is still thinking about a boy they couldn't get to: an 8-year-old who was trapped underneath the boat.
"I wish I could have done more," said Van Breems.
The boy was eventually pulled out from under the boat, but was unconscious. He was taken by helicopter a hospital, where he remained Thursday with life-threatening injuries.
"We're all praying for that child," said Jessup.