Thread: Near death fishing tale
Near death fishing tale
My baby brother is a fishing guide south of Sarasota. Today he sent me some great pictures of a recent trip. As I scrolled through them things were not adding up....this was not a normal trip. The first thing I notice is the guy holding the fish is wearing a wet suit (NOT NORMAL) then I spy his spear gun, ok, so they changed up from flats fishing and went off shore for spearing, I can understand that.
Lots of pictures of really huge fish follow. And then, there is one of a guy lying in the bottom of the boat looking really pale and awful...hmmm maybe some seasickness or drinking occured? More pics of the guy now lying in the fetal position on top of several dry-bags. AND THEN...the coast guard helio photo.
I immediately call "baby huey" for the rest of the story and here it is second hand.
My brother took a group off shore for some fishing and spearing. One of the guys is a world class competitive free diver. Another has been free diving with him for a while but is not as experienced. These two proceed to nail a huge jack (I mean as big as the diver) and several others. There is a huge one down there that they want but know they won't be able to handle it once they spear it so they tie off the speargun line to a fishing pole line on the boat (no one ever does this)and head back down to shoot the fish. The experienced diver is down first and hunting his fish, he is just about out of air and ready to surface when a speargun comes floating down in front of him. He looks up and sees his partner unconscious in the water, they are deep still. With no air left, he is unable to drag the other guy to the surface. He knows that if he goes back up for air he will never be able to find him again SO....he takes his speargun and shoots at the guy's foot. He intended to literally shoot him through the foot to be sure the line wouldn't come out, he wound up just getting it through his fin. At any rate, he surfaces and yells to the boat to cut the anchor line and start hauling the line from the spear gun. My brother thinks he has the fish on and wants them to start hauling so he slacks the anchor and manuevers over. The diver is shouting to them that the other guy is drowning down there and attached to the line. They haul the guy up from the depths by reeling in the fishing pole. My brother said that when they pulled him in the boat he was limp and bleeding from the eyes and ears...not good. Desperately they pumped him to get the water out of his lungs and get him breathing again (Patrick did stop for a second to ask about the spear coming out of the guys fin but decided it was not important right then. He thinks maybe the guy shot himself in the foot or was shot accidentally and that is what started the whole thing) They got the guy coughing up water and the blood stopped bubbling from his mouth. The Coasties were on their way. By the time the coastguard got out there the guy was sitting upright somewhat and trying to refuse the ride in the basket up to the helio. Patrick insisted that he go, with 65 miles of Gulf to cross and his overall condition still unknown, they were not taking chances.
The guys spent the night in ICU, doctors say that his glottis swelled which blocked the water from coming in (I'm not all that clear on this part) which saved him from drowning.
After the helio took off the remaining guys collapsed into a cold beer and tried to figure out what had happened. It is still unclear why he passed out, maybe from too much free diving over several days (I know that with scuba nitrogen narcosis is a danger but not sure about free diving). The guy who shot him the foot finally got to explain that he had known several incidents like this which resulted in both divers dying because the conscious one lost consciousness trying to get them to the surface. Shooting him was his only option given the air that he had available to him.
So what do you think about that?
Last edited by bluemtnrunner; 07-10-2008 at 09:56 PM. Reason: adding details
07-10-2008, 12:15 PM #2
- Join Date
- Feb 2008
- Historic Old Point Washington
07-10-2008, 12:21 PM #3
That was literally quick thinking on his feet! Thank God!It was kind of like Meat and Potatoes - Simon Cowell
"I needed the pom poms. Tragically, I can't thread a needle, but Bdarg has skillz." ~jdarg
That is an amazing story!! Is he ok? Will there be any lasting effects?
Lasting effects for the diver or my baby brother?
The diver is fine. He was out of the ICU the next day. I really do want more details on the bleeding he experienced and the reason that he was unconscious in the first place.
I imagine he looks at his foot a lot and is grateful that it didn't get speared....he is probably more grateful that his fin didn't rip off though.
My brother and the others agreed to get in for a refresher on the cpr and first aid courses. As a captain he has had training but this made him think that more intensive training could come in handy. He said that all of the training he has ever had snapped in immediately. He had to stop them from giving mouth to mouth until they got the gunk out, other little things he said he didn't realize he remembered.
He has been on the water since he was 6 months old, he is now 35 and that was his first experience with the coast guard helicopter basket. Hopefully his last.
Last edited by bluemtnrunner; 07-10-2008 at 09:12 PM.
07-10-2008, 04:53 PM #9
Now that was a good story. Glad everyone is ok.
07-10-2008, 05:07 PM #10
Thanks for sharing this story.
That is interesting about the bleeding - if you find out more, please post.
He suffered probably from deep water blackout, not uncommon with free diving.
Here is some additional info.
30A home of glorious sunsets.
Here is the story from the survivor himself. You can find the post on spearboard.com followed by a post from his rescuer.
Escaping death from shallow water black out
I want to start this email off by giving God all the glory right now, the fact that I'm even around right now is nothing short of a miracle. Without Cameron Kirkconnell's quick thinking and actions, I'm sure I'd be laying in 180ft of water off the west coast of Florida. This is my account of the incident, and much of it will overlap with Cam's which I will include at the end of this email for those who have not read it. This all occurred while freediving, there were no tanks involved whatsoever. I was wearing board shorts and a rashguard, no wetsuit and no weightbelt, water temp was around 85*F.
We had planned this to be the last dive of the day, 70 miles offshore of Englewood, FL, in 180 ft. of water and it was approaching 6:00pm. On a previous dive, we had spotted a cubera snapper in the 100lb class, between 75 and 100 ft, and discussed our tactics on the surface prior to the drop. We'd always joked around about rigging a fishing rod directly to the shooting line on the gun to reel the fish in, and for one time out of the thousands of combined shots that we had taken, Cameron decided to give it a try. After a thorough 5-7 minute surface breathe up, I dropped down to somewhere between 75 and 100 ft (I was not wearing a freediving computer) to look for the fish. After about a minute of searching, I decided to head for the surface as I could not find the fish. Cameron observed much of my ascent and dropped down to look around for the cubera with his "fishing reel Hawaiian-breakaway setup." I remember swimming upwards and seeing ripples on the surface appx. 25 ft away in the crystal clear water, and instantaneously, bam, I was out cold, shallow water black out. As Cameron lined up the shot on the cubera, the white handle of my speargun sinking past him caught the corner of his eye, moments before he pulled the trigger. At this time, he looked up to see me sinking head first, unconscious and convulsing, about 60 ft away from him laterally in the water.
He immediately dropped his weight belt and swam full speed at me with hopes to get a shot off at the meat of my thigh for a good holding shot, but could not be confident that such a shot would hold at a distance. His second thought was to shoot my calf, but the bones of my lower leg blocked the shot as I was facing him. For a split second, my fiberglass longblade fins turned broadside towards him and he squeezed the trigger, wham, a perfect penetrating shot to the center of my fin. Cam has said that, at this point, it was the closest he had ever been to blacking out himself. However, he made it to the surface and proceeded to instruct everyone on the boat to cut the achor line and reel in his shaft, because I was on the other end and had drowned.
When I reached the boat, I had been under water for appx. 3 and a half to 4 minutes at depth; my body was limp and completely blue, I was also bleeding out of my eyes, ears, nose and mouth. I had a faint pulse but was unconscious and not breathing, and my airway was not opened. This is what is known as a "dry drowning" because the glottis in the back of my throat had closed, not allowing air or water to enter or exit. Cam tilted my chin back and head to the side, blowing air across my cheeks and under my eyes to stimulate breathing as you would an infant.
At this point, still unconscious, some foamy, blood-like fluid (called "sputum," the result of a pulmonary edema) leaked from the side of my mouth. After a short time I sputtered a small cough and took what Cam described as a 1% lung capacity breath. Another 30 seconds later, I did this again with more sputum foaming from my mouth, and after 10 minutes or so of this repetitive action, I had about 15% lung capacity. This entire time, Cameron and the others on the boat were on the radio with the Coast Guard to get oxygen out to us ASAP. I can't say that I was aware for much of the time prior to this, but I remember hearing Cam's voice assuring me that everything would be okay as I drifted in and out of awareness in my own mind. Another 5 minutes later, after a total of 15-20 minutes of unresponsiveness, I finally slurred out some words and could lightly squeeze his hand. From this point on, as the boat was speeding towards shore, I slowly regained motor functions and lung capacity (up to about 30%), until the Coast Guard helicopter arrived, 45 minutes after the original accident, still 55 miles offshore. They lifted me in a basket into the copter, and I was at Tampa General Hospital within 30 minutes.
I still had very little lung capacity as they were filled with the sputum from the pulmonary edema, I was throwing up blood that was in my stomach, and my entire body ached. Luckily I dodged two other bullets which were of concern: the blood from my ears and eyes. The blood from my ears was caused by the fact that I had not equalized as I sunk from appx. 25ft to 80ft, but somehow I did not burst my ear drums and my hearing was not affected. The blood from my eyes was a result of the massive mask squeeze on my face caused by the fact that I had also not blown air into my mask to compensate for compression as I was sinking, but once again I escaped without injury. I spent a total of one day in the Trauma Center, two days in the Intensive Care Unit, and one day on the hospital floor, with the majority of the time spent concentrating on reducing the amount of fluid in my lungs. There was absolutely no long term damage to my body or brain, and my lung capacity is back to nearly 100% after only days.
I can not stress enough how amazingly fortunate I was. I am not aware of anyone else surviving a shallow water blackout after being retrieved from such depth without major physical and mental damage. Every little thing worked out perfectly, and if anything was different, I can say with 100% confidence that I would not be here. If I had watched the whole thing from a third person standpoint, I would also say that there is no way I should have survived. Why we decided to rig the gun to the fishing reel on the boat for this one shot out of the thousands we had taken in our lives, I don't know. How my gun sank right next to Cam, I don't know. How he saw the gun before pulling the trigger on the fish and thus not having a shot left for me, I don't know. Why the shaft penetrated my fin perfectly without cracking it or breaking, I don't know. Why my fin didn't slip off while I was being reeled in resulting in me sinking, I don't know. Why my ear drums didn't burst and my eyes sucked out of my head, I don't know. All I do know is that I'm here, and God is great. Cameron's multiple freedive spearfishing world records speak for themselves as far as his diving ability is concerned, but I'm sure he would agree that this was the best shot of his life. There is nobody else on the planet that I would trust more to take a long range shot directly at me to save my life in 200ft of water.
The scariest part is that this could happen to anybody at anytime, and those with more experience are even more susceptible to shallow water blackout. If this email and my story saves one person then everything that has happened was more than worth it. To everyone, dive safe, always dive with a buddy, and don't push your limits because NO FISH IS WORTH YOUR LIFE!
Definitely a miracle and glad to hear of no permanent damages.
30A home of glorious sunsets.
07-10-2008, 09:42 PM #14
- Join Date
- Feb 2006
- Prairieville, La
Glad everyone is ok. What a story to tell the grandkids...The image in a mirror doesn't always reflect the conditions of a soul ~ LN
Talk about hanging on to life by a thread....
Last edited by bluemtnrunner; 07-10-2008 at 09:44 PM.
07-10-2008, 09:52 PM #16
- Join Date
- Aug 2005
- grapevine, tx. /On the road to SoWal
What a story!! Glad Steve's ok.I love Jesus, but I drink a little. ~Gladys
DD, I toad you it was pucking hot.~~Kitty
"You're my fun, drunk aunt" ~~Layla to Vanessa 2011
Wow, thanks for sharing that story. It truly is amazing.
07-11-2008, 09:26 AM #18
Thank God and the quick thinking of your friend. I'll be watching for you guys on the morning shows.
07-11-2008, 10:05 AM #19
- Join Date
- Mar 2006
- Santa Rosa Beach
Wow! Call the Discovery Channel people...you should not be alive!
God is truly Awesome! Thanks for sharing.
You know you're in a serious situation when you have to contemplate shooting someone with a spear to save them.
That story is awesome but it gives me the chills to even think about it.I know I don't get there often enough,
but God knows I surely try
It's a magic kind of medicine,
that no doctor could prescribe.
07-11-2008, 02:42 PM #21
- Join Date
- Jul 2005
- Birmingham and Watersound
Cameron actually explains that at the point that he was aiming to shoot ,it seemed most likely that he was going to be doing it so that he could retrieve the body. The chances of Steve surviving this were already that slim.
I talked to my brother today and Cam has asked that they send him their recollections of the events, there was so much going on that each of them have different details. It will be interesting when they all come together.
I definitely think this is a I SHOULDN"T BE ALIVE story.
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