NEWPORT BEACH — The tide was just high enough to bring his wooden dinghy up to the seawall. Skip Staats likes to sit atop the wall and sip coffee in the morning sun.
Had it been any more shallow, he wouldn't have been relaxing next to the Balboa Island Ferry, and a visiting family of four from Taiwan could have drowned.
Staats, 46, rescued three members of the Chang family from their sinking Dodge minivan Friday morning after a Mercedes, driven by a Balboa Island resident, accidentally rammed it from behind.
Another passing fisherman pulled the fourth family member to safety.
After seeing the silver minivan fall into the harbor, he motored up to it and saw it was floating with the water up to its windowsills. As he approached the rear driver's side, he saw a girl, 6-year-old Ping Chung, strapped into a child's safety seat.
"Get the girl," her father, Kuo-Hsuan, 36, told him calmly from the front seat.