California Houseboat Sinks During Overloaded Poker Party, Dozens Flee As It Capsizes: 'So Scary'

Dozens of people attending a family-friendly poker event on a California reservoir last weekend were forced to jump ship after their three-story houseboat capsized.

The Tuolumne County Sheriff's Office said yesterday the boat was located in the Mexican Gulch region of the Don Pedro Lake, close to the Blue Oaks Campground.

"At one point during the event, the vessel became overloaded with too many people on one side which caused it to tip and take on water. Everyone aboard was able to exit the vessel before our boating enforcement unit arrived," the sheriff's office said in a media release.

It was serving as a check-in station for the 2019 Poker Run, in which participants were tasked with solving clues around the reservoir to draw poker chips and compete for a winning hand. The event took place on August 17 from 12 p.m., according to an event page description.

Law enforcement released four images of the destruction yesterday, showing the boat turned upside down as officials worked to barricade the area.

A pontoon boat tied to the side of the houseboat also capsized and sank, the sheriff's office said. "Thankfully everyone was safe and no injuries were reported," it added in a short statement.

Video footage uploaded to Facebook on Sunday by user Stephanie Dambacher showed the boat sinking. In the 51-second clip, chairs and sun loungers can be seen tumbling from the deck as a man leaps from the back end of the vessel. The boat carried the name "The Nut House."

Watched this beautiful boat sink yesterday during the poker run... absolutely so scary and sad.

Posted by Stephanie Dambacher on Sunday, August 18, 2019

"Watched this beautiful boat sink yesterday during the poker run... absolutely so scary and sad," Dambacher wrote in a caption, also uploading two images from the incident. The woman's post went viral, being viewed more than 370,000 times and shared 2,300 times.

Concerned eye-witnesses can be heard in the video footage asking if everyone got off safely. "Is that not the most devastating thing you have ever seen?" one concerned woman says.

According to The Modesto Bee newspaper, a total of 35 people had to flee the sinking houseboat. Police sergeant Andrea Benson told the California media outlet that its owner—who has not been identified at the time of writing—will now have to hire a private company to remove the vessel from the reservoir.

The Don Pedro Recreation Agency currently permits 257 privately owned houseboats to be kept on Don Pedro Lake, according to its official website, which notes houseboats can be rented. The lake consists of up to 160 miles of shoreline and around 13,000 surface acres of water.