Alameda – A sinking boat near the Harbor Bay Ferry Terminal cast four men into the San Francisco Bay on Sunday afternoon, leaving three treading water and yelling for help and a fourth pulled to the rocky shore by passersby who tried their best to save him.

Alameda Police arrived first and performed CPR on the man until Alameda City Fire Department rescue crews took over. They raced him to Alameda Hospital, but he was pronounced dead, fire department spokesman Kevin Tidwell said Sunday evening.

crews try to rescue people on surfboards
Alameda City Fire Department rescue crews on 10-foot-long rescue surf boards plunged into the San Francisco Bay near the Harbor Bay Ferry Terminal on Sunday, Aug. 6, 2023, to save three people from a sinking boat. A fourth was pulled to shore by passersby and pronounced dead at Alameda Hospital later Sunday. (photo courtesy of Alameda City Fire Department.) 

The tragedy began at about 1:15 p.m. Sunday, when rescue crews responded to reports of “multiple people in the water calling for help,” Tidwell said. When police arrived at the shoreline, passersby from the recreation trail along Harbor Bay Parkway had already plunged into the water to pull out the victim before the police arrived to perform CPR, Tidwell said.

The fire department deployed its fire boat and seven rescue swimmers, most on 10-foot long surf boards, to rescue the other three.

“The victims were located approximately 100 feet off the shore to about several hundred yards,” Tidwell said.

Tidwell didn’t know whether it was a fishing or recreational boat, why it sunk or the ages or identities of the victims.

He didn’t know how long the victims were in the water, he said, but the rescue crews arrived quickly. Their station house is closeby.

A man is rescued from the water in San Francisco Bay
Alameda City Fire Department rescue crews on 10-foot-long rescue surf boards plunged into the San Francisco Bay near the Harbor Bay Ferry Terminal on Sunday, Aug. 6, 2023, to save three people from a sinking boat. A fourth was pulled to shore by passersby and pronounced dead at Alameda Hospital later Sunday. (Photo courtesy of Alameda City Fire Department.) 

The rescue swimmers “grip boards or buoys and then they get into the water and swim towards those victims to stop the drowning process,” he said, “and get them on a board or on a buoy so we can get them to shore.”

The three survivors were also transported to hospital for observation, he said, and had no life-threatening injuries.