Three survive boat capsizing in Kingston

North Kitsap Fire & Rescue and the WSF ship MV Spokane assisted in the rescue of three after their boat capsized near Port of Kingston Marina. - Michele Laboda / NKF&R
North Kitsap Fire & Rescue and the WSF ship MV Spokane assisted in the rescue of three after their boat capsized near Port of Kingston Marina.
— image credit: Michele Laboda / NKF&R

KINGSTON – Two adults and a teen escaped serious injury when they fell into the frigid waters of Puget Sound, after their small fishing boat capsized just north of the Kingston ferry dock June 1.

North Kitsap Fire & Rescue crews were dispatched to the incident at 8:11 a.m., according to NKF&R spokeswoman Michele Laboda. A witness reported seeing people in the water with an overturned boat about 50 yards off the beach, situated just north of the ferry dock. Firefighters responded to the marina to get the district’s fire-rescue boat underway within six minutes of dispatch. The MV Spokane, a Washington State Ferry, was approaching the Kingston dock at the time of the incident; its crew launched a small boat to assist.

When rescuers arrived at the site of the foundered boat, only the adult male remained there. The others, wearing life jackets, had made their own way to shore. Additional firefighters met the two at the beach, wading into the water to assist the woman when the effects of the chilly water sapped her ability to walk.

Unable to bring the man aboard quickly, the crew of the MV Spokane’s rescue boat helped the man reach shore safely by towing him the short distance to dry land. He was not wearing a life jacket.

The Spokane crew is being commended by the Coast Guard for their assistance with the rescue, said Marta Coursey, Washington State Ferries director of communications.

Although the adult female was evaluated by medics for possible hypothermia and trouble breathing, she declined further medical treatment or transport. Neither the adult male nor the teen required treatment or transport.

The boat’s operator told crews that he, along with his wife and grandson, had launched the boat at the nearby Port of Kingston Marina and were heading to fishing grounds when the 21-foot boat began taking on water at the stern. The man tried to bring the boat back to the marina but the situation worsened. Realizing that they were about to sink, the man turned the boat toward shore when the accumulating water apparently destabilized the craft, flipping all three occupants into Puget Sound. The man was certain that the boat’s drain plug was in place prior to launching, and noted nothing else unusual that could have contributed to the sinking.

Firefighters anchored the hull — overturned but still floating — to keep it from moving with the tides. Although the boat is reported to have fuel aboard, there was no evidence of leaking product four hours after the capsizing. Still, the U.S. Coast Guard and the state Department of Ecology responded to the scene to assess the situation.

The owner and several friends were able to remove the vessel by the afternoon of June 1. The man said he saw a "rotten" bit of the boat he did not notice before the fishing trip, according to Jessica Olanie, assistant business manager at the Port of Kingston.

The water rescue was the first of two for Washington State Ferry workers. A man in a kayak near the Seattle/Bremerton ferry route was taken aboard a ferry after crews found the man in distress, Coursey said. The man was treated for cold-water exposure, she said.

It is standard procedure for ferry crews to respond to maritime emergencies, Coursey said. Crews respond to emergencies on a routine basis, she said.

"Our crews are highly trained for all maritime emergencies," she said.

— Kipp Robertson and Megan Stephenson contributed to this report.

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