Dragon boat team safe after Waterway incident

All 22 members of the Khmer-Krom dragon boat team made it out of the water safely Saturday night after their boat capsized on the Thea Foss Waterway in Tacoma.

Team manager Phong Ly said the team had been paddling home in its long boat from the Puyallup River when waves kicked up by strong winds swamped the boat.

“The boat started filling, and we couldn’t bail fast enough,” he said.

Fortunately, the team of eight women and 14 men recently had drilled for just such an emergency, and everyone surfaced safely. Team members all were wearing flotation devices. They made it to shore and gathered at Thea’s Park on Dock Street.

A few team members were chilled, but there were no injuries and no one was taken to the hospital, Tacoma Fire Department Capt. Doug Kimball said.

A dozen members of the Tacoma Fire Department responded to the incident, which occurred just before 8 p.m.

Paddlers were in the water for between five and 10 minutes, he said.

The team was practicing for the upcoming Maritime Fest, which takes place Aug. 28- 29 at Thea’s Park.

B efore they race, Ly said, they must retrieve the dragon boat, which remained half-submerged in the Thea Foss on Saturday immediately following the incident .