Three Catalina Island Boaters Dead, Four In Hospital After Boat Sailing Near Salta Verde Point Capsizes

The bodies of three boaters have been recovered and identified by Los Angeles County Coroner’s officials on Sunday, after a small boat they were in capsized just off of Catalina Island, California on Saturday. Four other boaters believed to have also been in the 22-foot skiff were recovering in hospital.

The U.S. Coast Guard Los Angeles-Long Beach received a call around 9:30 a.m. saying that a small boat with seven boaters aboard had capsized near Salta Verde Point, on the backside of Catalina Island. According to the Los Angeles County Fire Department, the boat tipped over when it was hit by two large waves. Good Samaritans on board a fishing boat who witnessed the event managed to rescue two of the boaters, and reported that they had seen a third on rocks near the island. According to KTLA, Coast Guard Lt. Christine Igisomar said the Good Samaritans began life-saving efforts until officials could arrive.

“They immediately began CPR until Baywatch Avalon got one scene and they took over the CPR effort.”

A Coast Guard helicopter rescued another one of the boaters who had been stranded on rocks just off of Catalina Island, while a fourth who had made it safely to shore was found by a Catalina Island Conservancy Officer. The four survivors were transported to local area hospitals on the mainland, where, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, two were listed in critical condition and the other two in fair condition.

The captain of the Pacific Quest, a charter fishing boat, who witnessed Baywatch officials recover the bodies of the three dead boaters, said the scene was “horrific.”

“It was pretty horrific. It’s not everyday that you see people up, floating, trying to swim, and then they go under and disappear.”

The three boaters who perished in the waters off Catalina Island were identified by the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office as 47-year-old Kyung Kim, and 64-year-old Young Park, both of Los Angeles, and 62-year-old Jason Noh, of Buena Park. The names of the surviving boaters have not been released, but officials say all four are of Korean descent and are over 40 years of age.

According to meteorologist Chris Dolce, large waves have been affecting the area around Catalina Island, as well as all of Southern California, since last week.

“A long period south to southwest swell has been affecting Southern California since late last week. This has caused high surf in both the coastal and offshore waters, as well as rip currents at beaches. Based on buoy data, waves were in the 4-7 foot range in the coastal waters Saturday morning.”

One of the Good Samaritans who helped rescue the boaters, Spike Ivens, said that the men had done nothing, and that the capsizing wasn’t their fault, but that they were at “the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“It’s upsetting because it could happen to anyone. There were some freak waves. The wave that grabbed them — it picked them up and tossed them.”

After spotting the overturned boat, Ivens helped rescue two of the boaters, and then flagged down the captain of the Pacific Quest, who helped Ivens pull the boaters aboard his boat where they began CPR until help arrived.

With waves as high as seven feet, the four surviving boaters were lucky to get out of the water alive. Officials have not said how the man who reached the shore had managed to do so, nor are there any details regarding the injuries sustained by the survivors. When the 22-foot skiff capsized off Catalina Island, tragedy struck as three of the seven boaters were found dead in the choppy waters. Homicide detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department are handling the investigation.

[Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images]