12 children rescued after waves hit sailboats during lesson in California

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Twelve children were rescued from the waters off Santa Cruz, Calif., After the sailboats they were in capsized in heavy waves on Sunday, officials said.

The children were participating in a sailing lesson near the mouth of Santa Cruz harbor on Sunday afternoon, according to Santa Cruz firefighters and other officials. About twenty people were sent to the water.

There were no serious injuries and all the children were wearing life jackets, but when a firefighter rescuer first arrived, five of the children were reportedly missing, firefighters said. They were found and rescued within 15 minutes, and one of the five had already been rescued by the port patrol.

Video recorded by a spectator showed the boats being overturned by a strong wave, NBC Bay Area reported. Surfers assisted in the rescues, firefighters said.

“We came to the rescue right away and grabbed the kids who needed it most,” Shane Skelton, one of the rescuers, told the station. He and others came on the next wave and pulled the other children away from the rocks.

The Santa Cruz Yacht Club, which operates the sailing school, said in a statement that it is investigating what happened and will take action to prevent another incident like this.

Firefighters said the life jackets “certainly played a role in their survival and had a positive outcome.”

Santa Cruz is a seaside town off Monterey Bay, about 40 km south of San Jose.

On Sunday, the National Weather Service’s San Francisco Bay Area office warned of high surf conditions and higher waves are expected for the Bay Area and the Central Coast Tuesday through Wednesday after- midday.

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