CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) — A 67-year-old man who was stranded on his boat during Hurricane Ian said he’s thankful to be alive, thanks to the U.S. Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard rescued him during the storm and, a week later, 67-year-old David Littlefield got to thank the crew personally.
Littlefield’s 44-foot boat listed on its side and was mostly submerged when he was rescued.
“These guys rock and they deserve all the recognition you can give them,” said Littlefield.
He was headed south on his boat near Pine Island South in an attempt to outrun Ian.
“The wind and the waves rolled the boat 90 degrees onto its starboard side, water started to come in,” he said.
This caused him to be violently thrown. Littlefield knew he was in trouble, so he put on his lifejacket, sent a mayday and activated his EPIRB.
“Don’t panic and that’s the big thing – you have to keep a level head, rely on life experience training and just hope for the best,” said Littlefield.
After 12 hours outside on his deck and in hurricane force winds, Littlefield finally heard the sound of a Coast Guard chopper overhead.
“Seeing him again and knowing he’s safe, you know, it’s great – it really is,” Petty Officer 2nd class Jethro Hauser said. “It’s a good feeling.”
Hauser was in the water to help hoist Littlefield up.
“He grabbed me and the first words out of his mouth were, ‘Thank you,'” said Hauser.
So far, the Coast Guard says it has rescued 746 people and about 100 pets.