3 Children Die After Strong Waves Hit Speedboat Off Normandy Coast

By The Associated Press

PARIS—The deaths of three French children on a speedboat that overturned in the English Channel just off the Normandy coast are under investigation, authorities said on Tuesday, Aug. 13.

The children who died were on an outing with their parents in windy conditions when a huge wave struck the boat, tipping it over. All three adults on the speedboat survived the accident, authorities said.

Sadly, two girls—aged 13 and 9—and a 7-year-old boy could not be revived, FBC News reported.

Authorities haven’t released the identities of the dead and survivors.

The regional maritime authority said a rescue operation was launched after a witness reported seeing the boat in trouble Monday afternoon about 800 meters (875 yards) off the coast near the town of Agon-Coutainville.

“A sailing school boat rushed to the scene, along with a helicopter and two sea rescue teams,” BBC reported.

The mother of two of the dead children said her daughters and a boy could not swim and got trapped in the boat’s cabin. All 3 children were wearing life jackets when the incident occurred.

“They had no time to get out,” she explained.

The girls’ father tried to break the window “with his arms, with his legs, with the anchor of the boat,” the woman was quoted by daily newspaper Ouest-France as saying.

The paper did not name the mother, saying only that she and her family lived in the Normandy town of Argentan.

The prosecutor’s office in the commune of Coutances said the adults were outside the cabin and thrown into the water when the boat turned over, according to the magazine Le Point.

The head of the local SNSM sea rescue unit, Pascal Dutot said he found the boat filled with water and partially submerged but not capsized.

Members of the Societe Nationale de Sauvetage en Mer
Members of the Societe Nationale de Sauvetage en Mer (SNSM, the French Sea Rescue Organization) on a rescue speedboat train during the National Day of Lifeguarding Experts on June 29, 2017 in Ouistreham, northwestern France. (CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP/File Photo via Getty Images)

During the race to reach victims while waves rolled the vessel, “the most difficult thing was to extract them from the cabin, to break the windscreen,” he said.

“I grabbed one of the victims with a young firefighter who just arrived at the scene with his dinghy,” Dutot said. “We put the victim onboard the dinghy and took the person straight to the shore, where the fire men were waiting for us. The victim was unconscious.”

The conditions on the water at the time were manageable for a larger boat but would have been choppy for one the size of the 5.5-meter-long speedboat, he said.

NTD staff contributed to this report.