Three French children drowned Monday in the English Channel after a massive wave capsized their motorboat.
The deadly accident occurred about half a mile off the French coast of Agon-Coutainville, near Cherbourg.
The tragic, young victims included a 9-year-old girl, her 13-year-old sister and a 7-year-old boy, reported BBC News.
Three adults on board the boat survived.
“It all happened so quickly we had no time even to cry out,” the unidentified mother of the dead girls told the French newspaper Ouest-France. “I called for help but then a huge wave tipped us over.”
Sea rescuers arrived quickly to find the boat’s stern underwater. The cabin, where the children had been, was submerged.
The adults were not inside the cabin, said the mother of the deceased girls, who added the three children were sporting life jackets but could not swim.
“They had not time to get out,” she explained, adding that the girls’ father tried smashing the cabin window with his arm, legs and the boat’s anchor.
At least one media outlet reported that rescuers were alerted by someone on the beach who had spotted the boat in peril.
“I thought they were going to capsize so I stayed to watch them,” said a bar patron identified only as Sylvain on Tuesday. “They quickly returned toward the shore because the sea wasn’t good.”
A sailing school boat rushed to the scene, along with a helicopter and sea rescue squads.
“It was no time to go out; the sea was too choppy,” said rescue team leader Pascal Dutot. “It was too windy for a boat of just (18 feet).”