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High school rowing club outrigger capsized

By Shaun Bevan HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Jan. 3, 2011) – In Guam, one person is dead and another still missing after an outrigger canoe and a kayak capsized in Tumon Bay yesterday evening leaving seven people in the water.

[PIR editor’s note: Tumon Bay is located on the west coast of Guam.]

The six-person outrigger canoe was being rowed by some members of the George Washington High School rowing club when it overturned, said Guam Fire Department Battalion Chief Roy Dirige. A lone paddler had gone out to help, but also overturned, he said.

Navy rescue helicopters responded, along with Guam Police and Fire rescue officials when the call came in around 5:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Three rowers made it back on their own power, Dirige said.

Three others, rescued by fire officials, were transported to Guam Memorial Hospital for medical treatment.

Of those three, a 21-year-old female was dead on arrival and an 18-year-old male was in stable condition, according to Guam Memorial Hospital nursing supervisor Sally Quichocho.

The third person seemed to be unhurt, Dirige said.

Of the three people who made it back to shore on their own, one was taken back to the Hospita for observation.

As of 9 p.m. yesterday, it was unknown whether the remaining person was part of outrigger or the lone paddler.

After the sun had set on the bay, friends and family gathered outside the make-shift rescue command post on Matapang Beach as several boats, motorized personal watercraft and a helicopter searched through the darkness with spotlights for the missing person.

Just earlier in the day, the National Weather Service had issued a high surf and small craft advisory for the island's north and west-facing reefs.

The advisory noted to avoid venturing near exposed reefs and beaches "especially those along north and west-facing reefs as rip currents will be life threatening."

An hour before the incident in Tumon Bay, the Pacific Daily News contacted Paul Stanko, senior meteorologist with the National Weather Service, to talk about the high surf conditions.

During the phone interview, he said only experienced mariners should venture out toward the reef because the waves were strong enough to capsize a boat.

The advisory stated the surf on the north facing reefs would build up to 14 feet today and 13 feet along the west facing reefs.

The surf will slowly decline after Monday, but will remain hazardous through Wednesday afternoon, the advisory noted.

Stanko said the high surf could continue into the end of the week.

The high surf is the result of strong gale force winds from a cold front that is moving out from Japan, he said.

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