Man treads water for 20 hours in Florida

June 3, 2016 | By Garrett Montgomery More

A man treads water for almost a day, and the story makes headlines. William Durden, a former Navy pilot, fell off his boat on the Florida coast and was rescued by U.S. Coast Guard after 20 hours of treading water.

Coast Guard

A man treads water for over 20 hours and survives the ordeal thanks to the skills he picked up as a Navy pilot. On Wednesday, William Durden, 61, went fishing by himself on his 22-foot boat when he fell overboard on the Homosassa River north of Clearwater, Florida.

He was not wearing a life jacket. When he failed to return home late Wednesday night as planned, his wife immediately called the authorities. Early Thursday morning, the U.S. Coast Guard, spotted the man fighting for his life about 15 nautical miles southeast of Aripeka, Florida.

He was rescued and taken to the Coast Guard’s Air Station Clearwater for medical assistance where doctors confirmed that he was a pretty healthy for a man, who was treading water for nearly a day. So, how did Durden get through the horrific ordeal? He told local media:

“I went through different phases — first couple hours, ‘I’ll find some way to wave down and get on somebody’s boat,’ then sundown comes and…’I’m gonna have to plan for nighttime now.’ “

He added:

“…making it through the night was the hairiest part of the ordeal. I got cold and started to shake, feeling hypothermic. When the sun came up I kept thinking I’m gonna get picked up today. “

He explained that he felt joy after spotting the Coast Guard helicopter. USCG Petty Officer Jacob Latour, who was part of the rescue team stated:

“I looked a little bit closer and it had two arms and it was waving at me, my adrenaline spiked.”

Durden said that he spent a lot of time praying that he will not encounter a shark. He revealed:

“I felt fish hitting my legs. But was just praying that no big shark would come out and decide to have me for dinner.”

Latour went on to say that he was surprised to find Durden in good condition. He added:

“It’s very rare that we find somebody, a single person in the water especially after 20 hours with no life jacket and it is very exciting that we found somebody.”

Durden’s boat was later located by Florida Fish and Wildlife officials in St. Martin’s Key.


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