Man rescued with sons after fishing boat capsizes off coast of La Jolla talks to 10News about ordeal

Mike Lopo says 3 waves hit boat before it capsized

SAN DIEGO - A man who was rescued with his two sons after their boat capsized off the coast of La Jolla spoke with 10News on Sunday about their ordeal.

47-year-old Mike Lopo and his two sons, 24-year-old Zach and 18-year-old Riley, treaded water in the 63-degree brine, battered by winds and whitecaps, for nearly three hours after their 21-foot Benber Console capsized sometime after 11 a.m. Saturday off La Jolla.

Lopo told 10News it happened so fast.  

"We took on a little bit of water and the motor wouldn't start," he said. "Then, we had three big waves in a row hit us and it just sank us right away. Within like 30 to 45 seconds, it went down."

Lifeguards credited the crew and passengers of a sportsfishing boat for saving them.

Just before 3 p.m., crew members on the "New Seaforth" out of Mission Bay spotted the three, scooped up them out of the water and brought them on board.

One of the three men was unconscious in the water as the "New Seaforth" pulled up, and crew members and passengers, including two registered nurses, employed CPR until a San Diego Lifeguard rescue boat arrived, Lt. John Everhart said.

After being brought ashore, the three were transported to UCSD Medical Center for treatment.

"One was in serious shape, all three were potentially hypothermic because they'd spent so much time in the water," Everhart said.

Lopo and his older son have since been released from the hospital but the younger son, Riley, is still in critical condition after taking in too much water and from hypothermia. He thought his son had all but drowned.

"[The boat] didn't come a minute too soon," said Lopo. "Riley was in super critical condition at the time. He was having seizures and he had basically drowned at that point. I was just keeping him afloat until the boat got there."

Lopo had this message for his rescuers.

"Thanks to the captain and the crew... the crew member that jumped in to get the boat running, to the miracle of God that the two nurses I was told that were on board to perform the CPR on him once we got him on board... everyone who gave us warm clothes and kept us in their prayers," he said.

Their fishing boat was spotted Sunday, about 1.5 to 2 miles off the north end of Black's Beach by a person who called lifeguards, San Diego Lifeguard Lt. Andy Lerum said.

"The boat was floating on the surface, bow up, with the engine down," he said.

Lerum said lifeguards responding were able to right the boat and de-water it before towing it back to Mission Bay.

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