18 Rescued Following Westport Rowing Club Accident At Compo Beach

Eighteen teens and juveniles, in addition to several others, were rescued after three rowing sculls overturned and the chase boat took on water at a Fairfield County beach.

Westport firefighters and other first responders help those impacted out of the water.

Westport firefighters and other first responders help those impacted out of the water.

Photo Credit: Westport Fire Department

The incident occurred off Westport off Compo Beach on Long Island Sound around 5 p.m., Wednesday, March 20.

According to Lt. Eric Woods, of the Westport Police, police, fire and EMS responded to Compo Beach on a report that numerous people were in the water after a boat capsized.

Responding units found a chaotic scene of youths swimming to shore, arriving by boat, and some still in the water near Cockenoe Island. 

First Responders immediately began providing care to those who made it to shore and coordinating the recovery of people in the water, Woods said.

While accounting for and locating all the people involved, medical care was provided, and two individuals were transported to a local hospital for treatment.

Woods said an initial investigation indicates that three rowing sculls and one chase boat were launched from Saugatuck Rowing Club. Each rowing scull is 60 feet long and holds nine rowers ranging in age from 14 to 18 while the chase boat was operated by their coach. 

When the boats reached the area of Cockenoe Island, the weather began to change, and the rowers attempted to return to the rowing club, he said. The sculls began to take on water causing two of them to capsize throwing 18 people into the water. 

The group swam to the chase boat and began to hang onto the side of that boat which caused the chase boat to sink as well.

Another chase boat from the rowing club arrived and began to shuttle people to Compo Beach Marina, Woods said.

At the time of the incident, the air temperature was 40 degrees, and the water temperature was 44 degrees.

In total, there were 29 people from the rowing club that were involved in this incident.

The following agencies assisted Westport Emergency Services with this incident:

  • Fairfield Police Marine Division
  • Stamford Police Marine Division
  • Noroton Fire Boat
  • Norwalk Police Marine Division
  • Norwalk Fire Marine Division
  • US Coast Guard

The following Emergency Medical Services provided a combined 8 ambulances and 20 personnel:

  • Norwalk Hospital
  • American Medical Response (AMR)
  • Darien EMS

Westport Board of Education assisted by providing a school bus to transport the individuals from Compo Beach to Saugatuck Rowing Club.

“This was truly a team effort” Westport Police Chief Fotis Koskinas stated. “We are grateful for our surrounding agencies who assisted us with this incident and remind our communities that when a large-scale event, like this, happens we all show up to help.”

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