Texan Survives 30 Hours at Sea, Loses Best Pal

And in Panama, castaway returns home after 28 days adrift
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 28, 2012 9:10 AM CDT
Texan Survives 30 Hours at Sea, Loses Best Pal
Rescued castaway Adrian Vasquez, second from right, is surrounded by family members upon his arrival in Panama.   (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

(Newser) – A Texas man is mourning the best friend he had to abandon in the Gulf of Mexico to save his own life. After their boat sank on a fishing trip, ex-Marines Ken Henderson and Ed Coen spent more than 30 hours treading water and drifting with their life jackets tied together, the AP reports. But as his friend lost strength, Henderson decided to make a last-ditch effort to save them both and swim for help alone. He made it to a natural gas rig more than 50 miles from where the boat sank and called for help. As the Coast Guard searched for Coen, a fisherman found his body. "He was a very big-hearted person, and would do anything in the world for me," Henderson says. "We were true brothers. I really miss him."

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In Panama, the sole survivor of another fishing trip gone wrong made an emotional homecoming. Adrian Vasquez, an 18-year-old hotel worker, spent 28 days adrift in a 10-foot boat after its engines died. His two friends succumbed to dehydration and exposure during the first weeks at sea. The teenager was on the verge of death himself when a rainstorm saved him, giving him enough water to survive until he was picked up by an Ecuadorean fishing boat more than 600 miles away from where he had set off. He asked for a phone and made two calls: One to his mother, and one to the hotel to explain why had missed so many days of work. (Read more survival stories.)

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