Rescue at sea just in time - Philadelphia News

January 3, 2009 3:39:36 PM PST
A man and his crewmate are celebrating the New Year with a new lease on life.On Christmas morning, Kirk Ezell and his crewmate awoke to ankle deep water on their yacht in the Caribbean, 200 miles south of Jamaica.

"Collect what we could, then save ourselves, but you stay with the boat until the last second," Ezkell said.

But the situation went from bad to worse.

"In this case, the life raft deteriorated in front of our eyes and everything we loaded just sank or drifted out to sea," Ezell said.

They had a dingy, but they'd have to pump that up every 10 minutes and if help didn't arrive soon, Ezell says they'd have to try and float to Mexico which could have taken up to 10 days.

"In the wintertime, with the storms, would we have made it to Mexico? Probably not," Ezell said.

All they could do is continue to wait and pray someone heard their SOS call for help.

"The water [became] shoulder height inside the boat and everything in the boat broke loose. Down below we had cabinet doors smashing around; it was dangerous," Ezell said.

Soon, however, their prayers were answered.

A coast guard plane spotted them and dropped a rescue raft.

An Ukranian freighter, which by chance had deviated off course, was only a few miles away.

The crew rescued the two and they continued with the vessel to Philadelphia.

Ezell says if his crewmate hadn't stayed calm, he may not be alive today.

"Even during the rescue, she never wavered doing what I said and she never panicked," Ezell said.

Click here to get the latest Philadelphia news and headlines from across the Delaware and Lehigh valleys.