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While Imperial Beach lifeguards prepared for a public safety demonstration on Saturday morning, May 23, a father and son aboard a sinking fishing boat gave rescuers a real emergency to deal with.

“A fishing boat with its bilge pump flooded, was sinking, and they beached the vessel,” lifeguard captain Robert Stabenow explained. “We were giving [the boat operator] time to bail it out and let him go back out, but it’s too flooded.”

Captain Stabenow looked past the breakers, saying, “Look at all the boats out there. We normally have two to three fishing boats along our coast, but today we have about 30. Yesterday the paper said they were catching 30-pound halibut out there, so everybody came out.”

While a sheriff’s deputy gave the father a field sobriety test, the son recalled the event: “We just got out there when we started taking on water, and the stern was getting really low in the water. They don’t think my dad is drunk. They said it’s just standard procedure.”

Lifeguard Rich Hidalgo told the assembled crowd that he didn’t recommend beaching a vessel. “It will be very expensive. They’re looking at a $4000 tow job.”

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