Brave Sailors to Receive Medal

Six teammates at America’s Cup tried to save sinking minivan driver in San Francisco Bay.

Minivan being pulled from San Francisco Bay
Members of a Red Bull Youth America's Cup sailing team tried to rescue the driver of this minivan after it plunged into San Francisco Bay.Courtesy KTVU

US Sailing will present the Hanson Rescue Medal to six members of the American Youth Sailing Force race team who tried to save a drowning woman after her minivan plunged into San Francisco Bay.

The teammates, who will participate in the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup next month, were preparing for a fund-raiser in June when they heard a commotion. A minivan had driven into the bay at a speed of about 20 mph and was floating away from shore. The six sailors leapt into their team’s powerboat, drove it to the sinking car, and used tools to try to smash the windows. They also tried to free the screaming driver by opening a door, all without success.

“They were pounding the windows as hard as they could,” said team Capt. Ian Andrewes, who was driving the boat.

San Francisco police recovered the driver’s body the next day.

Andrewes, 23, will receive the US Sailing medal along with team members David Liebenberg, 21, Tommy Pastalka, 22, Evan Sjostedt, 20, Mikey Radziekowski, 21, and Nick Andrewes, 27. Pastalka was the only team member who suffered injury during the rescue attempt, cutting both of his hands while trying to break through the windshield and free the driver.