Sinking on the Schuylkill: Dragon Boat Disaster May Threaten Future Festivals

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Philadelphia Dragon Boat Festival is navigating some rough waters, 10 days after the event that saw three boats, including a police rescue boat, capsize. Now, some dragon boaters are threatening to boycott future events.

It was a sunny Saturday, after days of rain and, despite a high fast river with lots of debris, organizers decided to go ahead with the race that involves thousands of amateurs, as scheduled, October 1st.

YouTube videos captured the calamity that ensued, as one boat lost control, reversed course and slammed into another.

Occupants of both boats ended up in the drink and police boats, hyper vigilant after a drowning earlier in the week, rushed to help, but all the dragon boaters tried to climb on the same one, pulling it down as well.

Kim Gray is the captain of a team from Collegeville. She says conditions on the river presented problems.

“I’m sure they were trying to handle getting everything set up, but it was a delayed start. They usually have starting blocks — they weren’t able to put them in, my understanding is from the debris and the flow of the water, so they had to adapt on the fly.”

Others are not so generous. Boater forums blame the professional race company (new this year) for using tippy boats and inexperienced steersmen.

The owner referred questions to race organizer Carol Lee Lindner. She did not respond to numerous requests for comment, but said in an email to participants she would be reviewing all that went wrong.

Reported by Pat Loeb, KYW Newsradio 1060

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  • Big Tipper

    This is one of the most irresponsible “news” stories I’ve ever seen. The headline’s threat isn’t substantiated in any way. “Boater forums” seem to be the only source here, and they’re not even quoted or sourced. I was at the Festival and, yes, it had problems, but I don’t think it was a “disaster” and I don’t know anyone threatening to boycott future events (clearly Pat Loeb doesn’t, either).

  • Carl Spackler

    I was there and wont go back. Smelled like tinkle everywhere.

  • CC

    cancell the festival? boycot the race? because of an accident? that’s extreme don’t you think? the drowning mentioned was a woman driving down the hwy at a high rate of speed and into the river. has anyone called for a ban on non professional drivers on the hwy? is anyone boycotting driving all together?

    don’t get extreme over this, it’s a great thing for amatures to be involved so why not just learn from it and get your screening processes in place and a safety drill on what to do if you capsize.

  • Roy Patton

    As a member of the crew of boat six (The River Runners), I have to give my point of view on the accident.
    I would first like to explain that our team is one of the teams that takes the festival seriously. There was no drinking involved. We train hard to win. Our coach is a world class Dragon Boater and trains us to be the same. We were trained to paddle and to listen to her and the steersman.
    During the race, her visual focus is on us. She listens for cues from the steersman. Not a peep was heard from the steersman, despite his falling down several times (see video).
    I am not blaming the steersman. He was offered the job and he took it. He was probably thrilled to be there. I blame the screening process. Steersman should be experienced.
    That said, I do not think the festival should stop. I think Pan Am can take that day and learn a lot from it to make the event better than ever.

  • Sinking on the Schuylkill: Dragon Boat Disaster May Threaten Future Festivals | Transport Disasters

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