Saturday, April 27, 2013

Brother and sister swim 14 hours in shark-infested waters after fishing boat sinks

In a tale of real-life survival and sibling love, a brother and sister were found alive after a 14-hour swim to safety in the Caribbean after a fishing boat they chartered sank of the north coast of St. Lucia. The captain and first mate of the vessel were rescued after spending 23 hours in the water.

Americans, Dan Suski, a 30-year-old from San Francisco, and his sister Kate Suski, 39, from Seattle leased the boat to do some fishing. The brother was reeling in a 200-pound marlin when the boat began to take on water and flooded the engine room.

As the waves pounded the boat more water flooded in. The captain threw life jackets to the Suskis. "He said, 'Jump out! Jump out!'" Kate Suski recalled in a telephone interview on Thursday with the Associated Press.

The Suskis obeyed and jumped into the water with the captain and first mate. Less than five minutes later the boat sank. They were at least eight miles from shore and being tossed by tall waves. "The captain was telling us to stay together, and that help was on its way and that we needed to wait," Kate Suski said.

After an hour, when no help came, the Suskis decided to swim for it and lost sight of the captain and first mate. Then rain and swells cut the land from their view. "We would just see swells and gray," Dan Suski said.

A plane and a helicopter appeared in the distance and hovered over the area but no one spotted the siblings. Several hours went by, and the sun began to set. "There's this very real understanding that the situation is dire," Kate Suski said. "You come face to face with understanding your own mortality ... We both processed the possible ways we might die. Would we drown? Be eaten by a shark?"

"Hypothermia?" Dan Suski asked.

"Would our legs cramp up and make it impossible to swim?" the sister continued.

The pair swam for 12 to 14 hours, talking as they paddled and shivered under the moonlit ocean.

Dan Suski tried to ignore images of the movie Open Water that kept popping into his head and its story of a scuba-diving couple left behind by their group and attacked by sharks. His sister said she also couldn't stop thinking about sharks. "I thought I was going to vomit I was so scared," she said.
They finally came within about 30 feet of land they realized that they were looking at sheer rocky cliffs and would be battered to death against them if they tried to approach any closer.

They swam until they noticed a spit of sand nearby around midnight, dragged themselves ashore and collapsed before laying side by side, pulling up grass and brush to cover themselves and stay warm.

After resting they pushed inland, hiking through thick brush, picking up bitter mangoes along the way and stopping to eat green bananas.

Three hours later, they spotted a young farm worker walking with his white dog. He fed them crackers, gave them water and waited until police arrived, the Suskis said.

After being treated for hypothermia and receiving intravenous fluids, the siblings were happy to find out the captain and mate were safe.

The brother and sister were planning to fly back to Miami on Saturday with a really good story for Thanksgiving dinner.

[Via AP]

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