Guy Knocked Off Boat Swims 7 Hours to Puerto Rico

68-year-old had to travel 4 miles through rough seas
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 17, 2016 7:25 AM CDT
Guy Knocked Off Boat Swims 7 Hours to Puerto Rico
This March 6, 2015, photo provided by Donna Thompson, shows her husband David Thompson at Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands.   (Donna Thompson via AP)

On Sunday morning, Michigan man David Thompson sailed away from Puerto Rico, bound for Florida. Sunday night, he staggered into a Puerto Rico hotel restaurant bleeding, exhausted, and wearing only a shirt that he had fashioned into makeshift shorts. The 68-year-old retired engineer had been knocked off his sailboat by a wave in rough seas around 4 miles from shore. As he tried to climb back aboard, more waves took away his life jacket, which was connected to the boat, and most of his clothes as the boat drifted away. Thompson tells the AP that it took him seven hours to swim and float his way to a beach, where his legs were cut by coral as he made his way ashore.

Thompson says he knocked on doors for help but was ignored, probably because he looked like a drunk. He found help at the hotel, where he was given food, water, and clothes. "That man ate so much rice and beans that it seemed like he had not eaten for three days," a hotel worker says. "I truly admire him. He was so beat up. He had lost all his clothes. His heads, his hands, his feet were all beat up." He was taken to a nearby hospital, where treatment for dehydration is expected to last at least four days. Thompson says thoughts of his 2-year-old granddaughter kept him going during the swim. "I wanted to see her and hug her again," he says. "And I have a wife and a nice life. I didn't want to die." (This lost Australian survived by eating ants.)

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