December 19, 2016 / 4:22 AM / 3 years ago

Coast Guard plucks four sailors from icy waters off Annapolis after boats overturn

(Reuters) - Four people were rescued from frigid waters off Annapolis, Maryland, on Sunday after more than a dozen sailboats capsized during a race held in rough, windy weather, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

The Severn Sailing Association reported that 22 people had fallen into the water off 15 small sailboats during a race on Sunday afternoon, the Coast Guard said in a statement.

Rescue teams from the Coast Guard’s Maryland-National Capital Region, the Maryland State Police, Anne Arundel County Fire Rescue and Maryland Natural Resources Police all responded.

A Coast Guard crew based in Annapolis rescued four people from the frigid seas.

“The water temperature in the Chesapeake Bay today was 42 degrees, an extremely dangerous temperature for people in the water,” Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Sara Wallace said in the statement.

If the 22 people rescued without injury “weren’t wearing a personal floatation device along with a wet or dry suit, we may have had a different outcome today,” she said.

Wind speeds at the time of the race were sustained at 24 knots, with gusts up to 30 knots, the Coast Guard said.

Once all people in the water were rescued, the Coast Guard crew assisted Anne Arundel County Fire Rescue and the sailing association in recovering the overturned sailboats.

The Northeastern United States experienced a spell of unusually cold, stormy and windy weather at the weekend.

A fuel tanker skidded off a Baltimore highway and exploded on Saturday, sending sheets of fire into the path of approaching traffic and triggering a deadly 55-vehicle pileup on the ice-coated roadway. Two people, including the truck driver, were killed.

Reporting by Chris Michaud; Editing by Paul Tait

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