A 51-year-old recreational angler who fell overboard without a life jacket about three miles west of Point Judith, R.I., on Wednesday had to tread water for nine hours awaiting rescue.
His lobster boat, reported as either 21 or 23 feet, was spotted empty after running aground. The couple who spotted the boats alerted authorities, who launched rescue crews.
“When we went to go grab him and bring him on board,” a rescuing Coast Guardsman told WPRI 12 News. “He just says, ‘Please help me, I don’t have any strength, I’m very weak. So, if you can grab me up, and put me up as fast as possible.’ And that’s what we did.”
A few hours later, the boater, identified as Joseph Gross of Westerly, R.I., told NBC News 10 that a wave knocked him over.
“I leaned off the side to catch a breeze a little bit and, when I did, I caught a queer wave," Gross said. "I just lost my center of gravity over the rail and I went in just like that; no life jacket. Happened in about a half second."
Gross was reportedly a member of the Westerly Yacht Club and was returning from a fishing trip off Block Island, according to a report by The Westerly Sun.