Teen on vacation survives nearly 10 hours in waters off St. Simons Island

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. — A 19-year-old spent nearly 10 hours in the ocean fighting for his life.

“Worst vacation ever, but also my most exciting ever,” said Blake Spataro.

But it’s the kind of excitement we’d all like to avoid.

“I was out there sitting by the shore when a rip tide washes me straight into the ocean,” he said.

The teen was stranded in the ocean for nearly 10 hours.

“I didn’t want to die out there. I was talking to God the entire night,” Spataro said.

He screamed for help, but no one heard him over the waves and wind. He said he continued to get pulled out to sea Tuesday night.

“I wanted to live, I wanted to live, I was too young to die and I didn’t want it to end there,” said Spataro.

For hours, the U.S. Coast Guard searched in the sky and by boat, along with multiple agencies. Spataro’s father, Kirk, spent all night walking up and down the beach, desperate to find his son.

“I was screaming, I was hollering, I was looking,” Kirk Spataro said.

Throughout the night, the 19-year-old did his best to stay calm.

“Whenever I was tired I floated on my back,” he said.

He was about to give up, but then came a ray of hope, literally.

Lights from an approaching Coast Guard boat boosted his spirits.

“That gave me some comfort and gave me some motivation to keep going,” he said.

The teen kept pushing through until he came across a golf course early Wednesday morning where he came close enough to walk to shore and get help.

Workers there gave him food and water until an ambulance arrived.

“I’m alive,” the teen said.

“I’ve been in the Coast Guard for 18 years and I have never seen anything like this,” said Justin Irwin, senior chief with the U.S. Coast Guard in Brunswick.

Irwin visited the teen in his hospital room to let Spataro know how amazed and proud he was.

“I am truly blessed to be alive today,” said Spataro.