A 36-year-old woman is in critical condition Wednesday after a fishing boat she was on with her family capsized off the coast of Ventura County. The woman's two children and their father made it to shore safely.
A family of four left Ventura Harbor about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday on a lobster-fishing trip, but hit rough waters as they were trying to return, said Sgt. Steve Sagely with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office.
The boat capsized, sending the mother, father and two children – around ages 10 and 6 – into the water, Sagely said.
The children, who were said to have been wearing life jackets, washed ashore in the Hollywood Beach area of Oxnard and ran to a nearby home for help.
A man at one of the homes heard the kids screaming for help, let them in, and called authorities about 12:20 a.m. Wednesday. Firefighters responded to the 3900 block of Ocean Drive, according to a spokeswoman for the Ventura County Fire Department.
Ashley Parris, whose husband called 911, said the children were soaked, sandy and very, very cold. Parris was upstairs, asleep, and was awakened by the older female child's calls for help.
The couple got the older girl and younger boy into dry clothes and waited for authorities to arrive. The youngsters didn't know how long they had been in the water.
"They appeared to really be in shock," Parris said. "The girl ... was saying that they thought their dad was on the beach somewhere and that their mom might have drowned."
Most of the homes where the children came ashore are vacation properties, and there are not a lot of full-time residents in the area, Parris said.
Emergency crews found the 36-year-old mother in the surf, unresponsive and not breathing. She was taken to a local hospital in critical condition, Sagely said.
The 44-year-old father also made it to shore and was said to be physically OK, Sagely said. He was reported to be hypothermic.
There was a lot of wind in the channel, making for difficult conditions, a Fire Department official told KTLA.
A boat captain who helped get the family's vessel ashore told KTLA the trip was not safe due to the size of the craft, which was about 12 feet long.
"It’s a very small boat to be going across the Santa Barbara Channel. The weather is unpredictable here. No radar, which is critical for navigating at night," said Paul Amaral, whose Ventura Harbor-based vessel assist company tows disabled boats.
"So for the size of the boat, the ages of the children, maybe not the safest thing to do," Amaral said.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly indicated the city in which the boat came ashore.