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What to Know

  • A man who survived being stranded 17 hours in the Long Island Sound attributes his miraculous survival to his life jacket[hhmc]

  • Mike Diaz has fished in the waters for the Long Island Sound from his kayak for 12 years [hhmc]

  • According to the U.S. Coast Guard, there were 54 recreational boating deaths in 2017 in the Northeast, with 39 not wearing a life jacket [hhmc]

A man who survived being stranded 17 hours in the Long Island Sound attributes his miraculous survival to his life jacket.

Mike Diaz has fished in the waters for the Long Island Sound from his kayak for 12 years, when this past fall he decided to set out on a late season trip, launching from Lloyd Neck Beach.

After spending most of the day near the shore, on Oct. 17, 2017 Diaz eventually ventured farther – hoping to land a big fish.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the weather that day was mild, although the forecast predicted a storm the next day.

However, as he was making his way back to the boat launch, the weather shifted.

US Coast Guard Pleads for Boaters to Wear Life VestsUS Coast Guard Pleads for Boaters to Wear Life Vests

When the winds and the seas picked up, the water crashed into the vessel, pouring over and into his kayak, while Diaz unsuccessfully tried to bale the water out.

While he was headed for the beach, the kayak capsized. Diaz then leashed the kayak to himself to swim the last 100 yards to shore, against the tide.

Diaz realized he was in trouble and tried to get his phone from his dry box to make a call, but officials say the dry box failed and his phone was not working.

“The sun was going down, it was dark,” Diaz told the U.S. Coast Guard in an interview recounting his experience, adding that at some point the lights on his kayak also shorted out so he let go of the kayak “to focus on just keeping myself afloat.”

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Diazs roommate reported him missing the next morning and the search for him began, officials say.

Diaz spent all night treading in the water having the tide crisscross him between the Connecticut and New York sides of the sound.

“I knew there was a clock ticking,” Diaz said. “Your thoughts do start running into hypothermia – am I going to be found on a beach someplace? ”

But, Diaz said he knew he was OK as long as he had his personal flotation device — or FDP — on.

After over an hour of swimming, and more than 17 hours in the water, he reached a lighthouse he spotted off Connecticuts coast and signaled for help.

Within minutes, a U.S. Coast Guard rescue crew arrived and picked Diaz up.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, there were 54 recreational boating deaths in 2017 in the Northeast, with 39 of the 54 people who died not wearing a life jacket. Nineteen out of the 54 deaths involved a paddle craft.

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NBC

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