Twenty-eight-year-old James Michael Grimes treaded water for almost 20 hours after he fell overboard on November 23, until the U.S. Coast Guard airlifted him to safety the next day, ABC News reported Friday.
He had only been on the Carnival Valor for one full day with family when his sister reported him missing. Crew officials promptly issued announcements for him to check in with guest services, but he did not show up.
The pair had been enjoying themselves at a restaurant when Grimes visited the bathroom. However, that is the last thing he remembers before the situation took a dangerous turn.
Grimes believes he was knocked unconscious as he fell overboard. When he regained consciousness, he was in the water and there was no ship to be found in the darkness.
It was in that moment he decided to stay positive, noting, “You know when you’re here, you’re still alive for a reason. So, all you got to do now is swim and survive. I was hoping… they will start looking for me… they will find me eventually.”
“They assessed him as suffering from mild hypothermia. His condition appeared stable but he did show signs of shock and fatigue and dehydration,” Lt. Seth Gross of the U.S. Coast Guard, New Orleans sector, told reporters on Sunday.
Coast Guard officials released the ship to continue its voyage to Cozumel once the rescue was complete, and the young man was then transported for emergency medical care to the New Orleans Lakefront Airport, officials said.
Although it remained unclear how he fell overboard, Grimes tried to remain calm and wait for help to arrive while he was in the water.
“The fall didn’t kill me, sea creatures didn’t eat me. I feel like I was meant to get out of there,” he said, adding, “I wanted to see my family and I was dead set on making it out of there.”
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