For one Carnival Cruise passenger, the cruise was a vacation from hell. Twenty-eight-year-old traveler James Grimes was accidentally thrown overboard into the water of the Gulf of Mexico. Although he was stranded in the water for fifteen hours, he was determined to survive the ordeal and managed to tread water until the United States Coast Guard member arrived on the scene to rescue him from the salt water.
The search for Grimes took hours longer than expected after he fell off the cruise ship and was forced to tread water until the Coast Guard showed up. When he was finally rescued, he was near the brink of death with absolutely no energy left to keep on going.
“He had no energy. He had nothing left to give,” Richard Hoefle, an aviation survival technician, told WWL-TV.
Thankfully, the Coast Guard arrived just in time. They estimated that the overboard traveler only had about a minute left before he was going to succumb to the elements in the Gulf of Mexico.
“My best guess is that he had between a minute and 30 seconds left before we lost him completely,” Hoefle said.
The Coast Guard eventually found Grimes twenty miles off the coast of Louisiana’s Southwest Pass. He was spotted by a passing crew member of a cargo ship who called in the missing man’s location to the Coast Guard. When the Guardsman finally caught up with Grimes, who was treading water, they threw him a rescue sling, and the man was barely able to hold onto it and get dragged to safety.
“Once I handed that to him, he just collapsed into it. He didn’t have … he couldn’t talk to me. I was able to get his name and the cruise ship he had fallen off of,” Hoefle said.
Grimes was not only struggling to remain awake after treading water for fifteen hours, but he was also suffering from hypothermia and was on the brink of death.
“It’s hard to keep your mind in the right place, and then to throw that Hail Mary last couple of minutes of waving, swinging a sock around, anything to make himself more visible to us, that’s survival,” Hoefle said.
Footage from the amazing rescue shows the Coast Guard saving Grimes after he fell off the Carnival Cruise ship.
“He just had an incredible will to survive. And he did whatever he had to do,” Hoefle added.
This ordeal was a world away from a normal rescue mission. Hoefle admitted that this rescue in the Gulf of Mexico was different than other ones he and his comrades have completed in recent years.
“Some people break down and cry, some people are in shock, and they don’t know what’s going on. Some people are ecstatic, and they act a little crazy because they are so happy to be out of the situation that they are in,” he stated. “That was a one in a million, and we got it done.”