WATCH: Man saved from 15-hour water ordeal in Gulf of Mexico
A cruise ship passenger who fell overboard only had ‘minutes to live’ before he was rescued, says the USA Coast Guard. James Grimes had been in the water for more than 15 hours. He’d seemingly waved a sock above his head in a desperate attempt to attract attention.
Grimes was reported missing from Carnival’s cruise ship Valor around 12 hours after he disappeared (believed to be at 12pm last Thursday 24 November 2022) and was discovered in the Gulf of Mexico.
“Mr. Grimes had nothing left. He had no energy. He had nothing left to give,” says aviation survival technician Richard Hoefle. “My best guess is that he had between a minute and 30 seconds left before we lost him completely.
“Some people break down and cry, some people are in shock, and they don’t know what’s going on, some people are ecstatic and they act a little crazy because they are so happy to be out of the situation that they are in,” he told 4WWL.
The cruise was was headed to Cozumel from New Orleans.
“We are beyond grateful that this case ended with a positive outcome,” says Lt. Seth Gross, a sector New Orleans search and rescue mission coordinator. “It took a total team effort from coast guard watchstanders, response crews, and our professional maritime partners operating in the Gulf of Mexico to locate the missing individual and get him to safety. If not for the alert crew aboard the motor vessel Crinis, this case could have had a much more difficult ending.”
Crinis spotted Grimes 20 miles south of Southwest Pass.
Grimes only had one sock on when he was rescued and he was suffering from hypothermia and dehydration.
Hoefle handed him a rescue sling. “Once I handed that to him, he just collapsed into it. He didn’t have any energy. He couldn’t talk to me. I was able to get his name and the cruise ship he had fallen off.
“It’s hard to keep your mind in the right place, and then to throw that hail Mary in last couple of minutes of waving, swinging a sock around, anything to make himself more visible to us, that’s survival. He just had an incredible will to survive. And he did whatever he had to do.
“That was a one in a million and we got it done. We worked as a team and we were able to help somebody.”
According to the Daily Mail, Grimes was last seen at the bar with his sister at 11pm on the Wednesday but it wasn’t until Thursday lunchtime that he was reported as missing. The crew then searched for him until 2.30pm, prior to a call being made to the US Coast Guard. At 8.25pm he was spotted by another vessel and rescued by helicopter.
A passenger on board the ship, Whitney Gaines, told the newspaper that she sat next to the missing man’s family at breakfast the morning after he vanished. The family were talking about how he didn’t come back to his room that night.
Gaines said that his family was speaking of how ‘he kept getting in trouble for vaping in non-designated smoke areas because there’s only one area where you can really go smoke.’