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

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A police boat capsizes as dragon boaters struggle to climb on. (Photo from Youtube video)

A police boat capsizes as dragon boaters struggle to climb on. (Photo from Youtube video)

Pat Loeb Pat Loeb
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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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