A commercial lobsterman who fell overboard and became stranded at sea for more than 11 hours was rescued on Wednesday, 43 miles off the coast of Long Island.
The U.S. Coast Guard located John Aldridge floating in the Atlantic Ocean south of Montauk, N.Y., during a massive, 770-square-mile search that involved Coast Guard crews from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey as well as other local fishermen.
The 43-year-old, who apparently fell from the 44-foot Anna Mary on Tuesday night as the rest of the crew slept, was struggling to keep his head above water and had been using his rubber boots as floatation devices during the ordeal. He was not wearing a life jacket.
At one point, Aldridge said, sharks were circling him.
He was lifted into a Coast Guard helicopter in a dramatic rescue that was captured on video. Aldridge was flown to Cape Cod and treated for dehydration, exposure and hypothermia. His family in Oakdale, N.Y., said they expected him to make a full recovery.
"It was just meant to be, that it wasn't his time," his father, John Aldridge Sr., told WABC-TV. "It's just such a feeling to have him back. It's just beyond words."
"This ending had a lot of people shaking hands and smiling," Coast Guard Lt. Joe Klinker said late Wednesday. "Reports of persons in the water often mean a difficult search is ahead. To hear the call that he was found and rescued makes it a proud day for those Coast Guard crews."
- John Aldridge