Kept afloat by her orange life jacket and the bow of her family’s capsized boat, 9-year-old Desireé Rodriguez had watched helplessly as one family member after another let go of life.
First her mother began foaming at the mouth and then went still. Her 5-year-old sister died soon after. Her uncle went next, followed by her aunt.
Now she was alone, with no idea where her father was. He’d been at the helm during what started as a routine fishing excursion on the family’s boat. Soon after it flipped over, miles from land, he had insisted on trying to swim for help through the dark and thick fog.
Just as Desireé, too, began to give up, the skipper of a commercial sportfishing boat spotted an orange smudge bobbing in the water through his binoculars. Within minutes, the boat’s first officer had leapt into the water and was grabbing Desireé’s life jacket, pulling her back toward the boat — and toward life.
A 9-year-old girl was rescued from the sea Monday after she spent more than a dozen terror-filled hours clinging to the wreckage of a pleasure boat that capsized 11 miles south of the Palos Verdes Peninsula.