As reported by KTLA 5 News, an incoming boat manned by a father and carrying two young boys (their names currently undisclosed) raced through the lineup toward shore, pearled, and capsized on the sandbar. Thanks to Eithan and Micky’s close proximity and quick reaction, no one was seriously injured.
“This was pretty unordinary, and a really close call,” says Chris Papaleo, of Salty Beards acclaim, who had been filming the groms and subsequently recorded the entire incident before speaking toKTLA 5, then Surfline. “Usually the people who use that harbor are well-experienced boaters, and this guy was just out of his mind, with two little kids on the front of his boat, no less. Right before this, another boat did the exact same thing, just hauling ass right through the lineup, but it didn’t tip over. Then this second guy behind it tried to do the same thing. As soon as I started recording, he tipped over within two seconds, it was crazy.”
Papaleo’s video clearly shows that after the father lost control, the vessel came quite close to the surfers before capsizing, one of the children going overboard first, and then the other. As the surfers rushed to the kids’ aid, the father can be seen waiting, his arm rested on his knee as Osborne and Clarke went to work.
“The whole situation happened pretty fast,” Eithan Osborne told Surfline. “I came up from duck-diving and saw the boat coming straight at me. The boat flipped a couple feet in front of me, and when I came up I saw the dad panicking and one of the two kids pop up, but I didn’t see the other. So I swam to the boat as fast as I could and realized he was stuck underneath it. I put all my weight on the one side of the boat and, like, almost flipped it over. Then the kid swam out the open side.”
“The whole rescue took about 15-20 minutes, and I recorded the whole thing,” Papaleo continues. “Eithan was already shocked, because he almost got ran over. And those little kids could barely swim. They were wearing XL lifejackets, too. It looked like they were drowning in those things.”
The father? “He was more concerned about his motors and his boat than his kids,” Papaleo reasons. “At least that’s what it seemed like. There was also this paddleboarder off to the side, and Micky and Eithan started yelling at him, ‘Get over here so we can put these kids on your paddleboard!’ The paddleboarder gave up his board, but then he couldn’t swim! So he’s holding on to Eithan’s board as they put the kids on the paddleboard, and eventually Micky came over, threw one kid on his board, Eithan threw the other kid on his board, and they just pushed them in themselves. It was pretty intense. Once the kids came in, they were in shock, but paramedics got there really fast, did a routine check-up and everyone seemed to be fine. Then they put them on a boat and brought them to the other side of the harbor, where the rest of their family was.”
The father, however, might not get off so lucky. Although he was questioned and released by authorities, Ventura Harbor Patrol is currently investigating the accident for possible reckless operation consequences, believing the children were wearing adult-sized lifejackets, making them ineffective, while the father was not wearing a lifejacket at all. And Papaleo’s video is the key piece of evidence.
“I recorded the aftermath, too,” Papaleo continues. “The Harbor Patrol took the dad away on a separate boat, questioned him and saw he was under the legal limit for drinking, so he was good to go. No one had seen the video, or even asked me about it until we got home and watched it. Eithan’s mom was like, ‘This needs to be on the news, I gotta guy who works there.’ Within 30 minutes, KTLA 5 was at my house interviewing me. After the [authorities] saw the video, they began looking for the guy.”
“I was pretty impressed by how these 16-year-olds handled everything,” Papaleo says. “They were pretty alert, and from spending their whole lives in the ocean their natural reaction was to take control of the situation. I’m not even sure I’d know what to do. My initial instinct wouldn’t be to rescue people, but to get outta there. Good on those guys.”
“The dad wouldn’t move from his boat,” Eithan finishes, “so I told him, ‘screw you, I’m taking your kids to the beach!’ I put both the kids on my board and started kicking them in, then my friend Micky paddled over and took one of the kids and helped bring them to shore. It was pretty sketchy, but it felt good to do the right thing.”