ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — A St. Augustine man whose jon boat capsized, causing him to be stranded in the waters off St. Augustine for more than 30 hours in early August, was reunited with the first responders who saved him.
Charles Gregory, 25, said that the day he was stranded, he had gone on his jon boat to go fishing, which is something he does every week.
Gregory met with his rescuers Thursday at the Northeast Florida Regional Airport. St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, St. Augustine Fire Department, St. Johns County Fire Rescue, FWC, and the United States Coast Guard were all there, and they had the plane with them that saved the 25-year-old.
Gregory said he knew all the people who helped save his life, but to see them all at once was pretty shocking. He told Action News Jax what happened that caused him to be stranded at sea for two days.
“Whenever that tide is ripping out, I guess it was just too much and pulled my anchor out and loose. I went out too quickly. I couldn’t slow down fast enough before I was in the swells and rolled the boat,” he explained.
This caused Gregory to lose everything on his jon boat. Luckily, he was rescued by Coast Guard officials who found him through video surveillance. He said after the rescue, he had severe damage in his legs and couldn’t walk for days but now is okay.
Despite this, Gregory said he had given up on hope after being stranded for so long.
“It’s a very odd feeling knowing that you are going to die before you have any symptoms,” he explained. “Like, I’m still fine. I’m not super dehydrated. I was like, ‘It’s only a matter of time.’”
Action News Jax also spoke with the United States Commander Nick Barrow, who was a search and rescue coordinator for the Coast Guard and was involved in Gregory’s rescue. He said that typically when people are out for that long, things often don’t turn out well.
“The outcome that we saw in this case, especially going into day two with such uncertainty, with Charles having lost all of his safety and survival gear overboard, this outcome is rare,” he said.
Gregory said that since the incident, he has been back on the water and has made a speedy recovery.
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