AUSTIN, Texas. — It was a close call for a group of boaters who set out for a day on the water in Austin, Texas Thursday.
Incredible video shows a small baby blue, retro boat and the four women inside, teetering over the edge of Longhorn Dam on Lady Bird Lake.
A third of the boat was hanging over the spillway, with a 30-foot drop below them.
Officials say a mechanical issue left them with not enough power to correct themselves.
“I've been in special operations for about 15 years now this is the first time that I've seen one this precariously against the dam,” Austin-Travis County EMS Special Ops. Commander Joshua Todd told FOX 17.
Josh Todd leads the EMS team who got the 911 call Thursday afternoon.
“It just goes to show you this was a sunny, clear day in a large urban city on a small lake and things can still go disastrously wrong very quickly,” Todd said.
Rescuers responded in minutes, while a bystander from the local rowing club threw a rope to hold the small electric boat in place.
“He was providing some upstream tension to try to keep the boat straight because if it turned sideways in the water had a high likelihood that was going to capsize and go over the dam spillway,” Todd added.
Crews had to work meticulously; one wrong move could have turned the situation deadly.
— ATCEMS (@ATCEMS) June 10, 2021
“If you take people out of the boat, one at a time, it can cause the boat to shift and it can very easily go over. It was a very challenging operation, we didn't have a lot of room to work with to get public safety boats in there,” Todd explained.
But they did, and the harrowing situation came to an end without a hitch. The Austin boat pulled away from danger and all four women walking away unharmed.
“There's a lot of things that weren't working in their favor. But luckily, they were able to reach out to 911 and able to stay calm, not shift their weight around the boat, those kinds of things. So that really was instrumental within partnering us in a successful rescue.”
The women rented the boat from Retro Boat Rentals, a company that started in Saugatuck, Mich. We reached out to the owner for comment, who provided a brief statement from the Austin location’s operator. “We are thankful everyone is safe. We commend the efforts of the Austin-Travis County EMS and are grateful for their response."