GALVESTON, Texas - The crew who rescued the survivors included a full-time fishing guide who says they were coming back from fishing in the harbor.
"[We] noticed the boat taking on water, capsizing with a cooler blowing away not that far away," says Captain Chad Pannell, owner of Gulf Tex Fishing. "We started looking around. We saw the 5-year-old boy floating in the water about 200 yards away from us."
He says as soon as they scooped the boy from the water, another captain spotted two other survivors on the causeway bridge.
"We took off over there to get them, secured the boy, and made sure he wasn’t very cold any more. He was shivering, so we gave him a shirt and continued to search," says Pannell.
The boy had explained there were a total of five in their party and said no one was wearing life jackets.
"Very shaken up. Cold and shivering, all three of them. One of them didn’t have his shirt, and you could see it in their eyes that it wasn’t good. The first thing the little boy said was, ‘My daddy‘s not here anymore."
The survivors stated they had seen the other two boaters go underwater. One of the rescued onboard was visiting from out of town when the 20-foot boat started taking on water and wouldn't restart.
A small craft advisory was in effect warning boaters that conditions were unsafe.
"Licensed captains in this area, we rescue people all the time. Just last weekend we rescued somebody taking on water, and it was a lot better outcome. It’s just a matter of being aware and training. Just a boater safety course isn’t enough. You need to have experience. It’s dangerous out here," he adds.