Scott Thompson fell into the Santa Barbara Channel, near the city of Santa Barbara, off the coast of California, sometime last month wearing only shorts and a T-shirt
A man who fell into the Pacific Ocean from a motorboat is claiming he was helped by a life-saving seal that nudged him along during his five-hour swim to safety.
Scott Thompson fell into the Santa Barbara Channel, near the city of Santa Barbara, off the coast of California, sometime last month wearing only shorts and a T-shirt.
He said the terrifying ordeal happened in the middle of the night, miles away from dry land.
He said: “I thought to myself, great, this is how I’m going to die. Today is the day I’m going to die.”
His motorboat continued on without him, with Thompson saying that this was when he realized he was in serious trouble. He tried swimming towards the boat, but quickly realized it was getting further away.
Thompson is reportedly an experienced swimmer and an expert diver, but he nonetheless felt panic set in as the cold chilled his body.
Thompson told himself to keep swimming and, thinking of his family, he started moving through the water.
He said he told himself to “just keep swimming, you gotta get home to your family”.
Thompson said: “I was devastating myself, through my mind, just picturing my girls and my son growing up without me, and my wife, you know, not having a husband to support her…
“I wasn’t thinking about sharks or anything like that, until I hear this splash.”
He quickly realized it was a medium-sized harbor seal and he said it went under the water and nudged him “like a dog comes up and nudges your leg”.
He reportedly saw it as a sign from God that he could make it.
He said: “Did it know, like hey, this human is in trouble, hey keep going dude?”
He kept swimming, not towards dry land, but towards an oil rig, which, while far away, was nearer to him than the shore.
He said: “It started getting brighter and I’m just like, I’m crying. And I’m like, shouting at the sky.”
He was noticed by the crew on the platform and they rescued him from the water. He was then taken by the coastguard to hospital, where he was treated for hypothermia among other ailments.
His vessel was retrieved by a tow boat crew, who reportedly could not believe that he had survived the ordeal.
Channel Watch Marine Paul Amaral said: “Even putting on a wetsuit, being prepared, getting in that water, and swimming to the platform was horrendous.
“I can’t imagine being in the water with shorts and a T-shirt at night. There was no moon, I mean it was pitch black.”