Dozens of people escape from sinking houseboat on Don Pedro during poker run

About 35 people had to flee from a three-story houseboat at Don Pedro Reservoir on Saturday when it began taking on water, tipped over and quickly sank.

The people were participating in a poker run in which they solved clues to collect poker chips, with corresponding cards, from locations around the lake in order to create a poker hand, according to an event page.

The houseboat, which was one of those locations, was beached and tied off at in the Mexican gulch area on the lake near Blue Oaks Campground, according to Tuolumne Country Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Andrea Benson.

“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,” Benson said in an email. “Everyone was able to exit the vessel safely before it sank.”

She said a pontoon boat tied to the side of the houseboat also capsized.

Video posted on Facebook of the sinking houseboat shows tables and chairs tumbling overboard as its final passenger tosses a bag to shore and leaps off the back deck seconds before the top of it plunges into the water.

Benson said the owner of the boats, who was running a station for the event, must hire a private company to remove them from the water.

Don Pedro Marina staff put up barriers until they can be removed.