Storm throws 43 young sailors overboard

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Posted: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 3:31 pm | Updated: 10:06 am, Wed Aug 21, 2013.

SARASOTA, Fla. - A strong summer storm threw dozens of children as young as 8 years old into Sarasota Bay on Tuesday. The young sailors were attending camp at the Sarasota Sailing Squadron when all their boats capsized.

The afternoon began like any other at the Sarasota Sailing Squadron, but within minutes a strong storm rolled in.

"All of a sudden the storm sucked up all the wind and it gave it back out again and it was really strong. Normally a little bit of wind comes in, but it was nothing like that, it was crazy," said 12-year old Hallie Schiffman.

Hallie's father says winds topped 55 miles per hour, causing all 25 of the 8-foot 'Optis' to capsize, leaving 43 kids in Sarasota Bay.

"I could see some of the kids had fear in their faces, but the staff was able to turn that around.  I saw panic in some of the kids faces, but they were able to turn that around," said Mark Schiffman.

The Youth Sailing Programs Administrator Karen Tone was proud of the response of the kids, some of whom are as young as 8-years old.  "I was prepared for some crying and to be a mom and console the kids and I said, 'That was scary wasn't it?'  And they collectively said 'That was awesome.'"

All the children were wearing life vests and used their training from camp to not panic and remain calm.

Nine safety power boats with instructors and four squadron members in personal boats, along with help from Sarasota Police units,  began picking up children and bringing them to shore.

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