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Coast Guard searches for 4 missing after sailboats capsize in Alabama

  • Well-wishers congratulate regatta participant Robert Luiten of Mobile, Ala., in blue shirt, on word that his son, Leonard Luiten, was found several hours after their boat capsized in a storm on Saturday in Dauphin Island, Ala. (AP Photo/Mike Kittrell,

MOBILE, Ala. » A powerful storm capsized several sailboats participating in a regatta, and crews searched late Saturday for at least four people missing in the waters, the Coast Guard said.

The storm rolled through the area about 4 p.m. and a man was plucked from the waters by the Coast Guard around 9 p.m., Petty officer Carlos Vega said. He said crews would search through the night.

More than 100 sailboats and as many as 200 people were participating in the Dauphin Island regatta in Mobile Bay. Dauphin Island Mayor Jeff Collier told that at least one person was confirmed dead, but he did not know the cause.

"It’s been a very tragic day," Michael Smith, with the Buccaneer yacht club, told WSFA-TV. "We’ve had a lot of breakage, missing people, fatalities."

Susan Kangal, who was on a boat, told WSFA it was the worst storm that she has seen.

"We were probably an inch from capsizing; everybody was ready to jump. I didn’t have a life jacket on," she said.

The boats were part of the 57th iteration of the race.

"Apparently there were a number of vessels that became distressed, either capsized or what have you," the mayor said. "They were scattered anywhere from Dauphin Island Bridge all the way out into Mobile Bay and across to Fort Morgan. It was a wide area."

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