Thanks for David Middlecamp’s article and photos about the capsizing of the San Mateo (“Photos From the Vault,” Feb 9.)
On Feb. 16, 1983, I happened to be the only doctor working the day shift at French Hospital emergency room. When I heard the radio go off with the medics explaining the situation as best they could, the nurses and I sprang into action by contacting pediatricians, other ER doctors, nursing administration, the hospital CEO. I don’t remember names. I only remember a sense of loss and dread with so many children involved.
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I fully anticipated only a few survivors, but we received all 23 children alive. If I remember correctly, the two injured adults on board were taken by medics to Sierra Vista hospital. Every child was cold but none had severe hypothermia. This was amazing considering they were in the water for 10 to 20 minutes, enough time for the cold water to create multiple physical problems at the least.
I remembered thinking what a miracle that was. I, too, was in awe of the Coast Guard’s rapid response. If not for them, those children would never have survived. I will never forget the children’s bright faces and marvel at their and our realization of how lucky they were.
Dr. Mark Eckert, Los Osos