Fairhope fisherman rescued after 10 hours in Mississippi water
FAIRHOPE, Ala. (WBRC) – The U.S. Coast Guard lifeguard says there are only minutes left before reaching the point of no return. Fairhope’s Kevin Olmstead, a veteran angler and fishing guide for more than 20 years, had been in Mississippi Sound water for 10 hours after being thrown overboard by a wave while trying to retrieve a life jacket. rescue.
Olmstead was unable to grab the life jacket before going over the gunwale of his beloved Rangers Bay boat, and the speedboat, which he thought was at a standstill, was still in take. Olmstead’s tenacity and desire to return to his wife and children kept him hooked despite rough waters and the effects of hypothermia.
“I told my story because I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. The story is ‘can I help someone?’ and not having to go through what I went through, because it was hell.
Olmstead, 53, was wading on the western end of Dauphin Island when he decided the conditions were getting too rough to stay. He got back into his beached boat and started what should have been a bumpy ride to Fairhope.
“I was there all alone,” he said. “I shouldn’t have been there in that weather. I blame myself for not making sure my throttle was in neutral before I unhooked my kill switch to put on a life jacket. At that time, a wave hit the side of the boat and threw me in. Going up, my head almost hit the boat. When I came to my senses, I was looking directly at the ladder on the port side. I reached out my hand to try to grab it. I put my index finger on my right hand above the scale. As the boat pulled me, my finger slipped.
Olmstead knew he was in deep trouble.
“I went into panic mode very quickly,” Olmstead said. “I knew I had put myself in the worst possible position. As soon as panic mode started, something quieted down and I thought, ‘Now it’s survival mode. You can’t worry about what you just did. You can’t worry about what will happen. I have to figure out how to survive this. It’s 3ft waves out there,” he said. “One of the hardest things was that I was taking waves 3 feet above my head every two to three seconds. I was drinking a lot of salt water and I had to hold my breath. walnut.
“An hour went by and I was successful,” Olmstead said. “Then three hours passed, and I was like, ‘I’m still here.’ I had to be my own drill sergeant that day. I had to pump myself. I had to clear my mind of all negative thoughts. Negativity wasn’t going to help me survive. And I talked to my kids and to my wife, like we were sitting on the couch; whatever I could do to stay calm as much as possible.
Around 3 p.m., Olmstead began to feel the effects of hypothermia, including convulsions and cramps.
“I knew I had to go to something fixed to have a chance of someone seeing me,” he said. It was getting dark, but I told myself that I had to go. When I got to a point where there was 10 yards, that was about when I was ready to give up all day. It was probably 7.”
Somehow Olmstead managed to reach a pillar encrusted with barnacles and turned to the side of the current and grabbed the pillar as lightly as he could with his feet and the palms of his hands. to avoid getting cut by the razor-sharp shells.
“I was tickled to be on that pillar, and I couldn’t get over it,” he said. “I started to see a bit more boat action. I had seen the Coast Guard jet fly overhead before it got to the pile, and I knew it had to be for me. Then I saw a boat that seemed to come from the rigging, and they were going parallel to me. When they took revenge on me, I thought they were going to continue. I said, ‘Oh, my God, please, please.’ I couldn’t wave because I was afraid of falling off the pillar.
“I saw them turn around and come towards me. It was my friends Rick Tourne and Kyle Mitternight. Kyle was bouncing around the front of the boat when he saw me. It was a wonderful feeling. They put me in the boat and the marine police arrived soon after.
After Olmstead was reluctantly transferred to the Marine Police boat, a Coast Guard helicopter showed up and dropped a rescue swimmer into the water. The rescue swimmer deemed it too risky to try to lift Olmstead into the helicopter, and he was transported by boat to Bayou La Batre, where he was taken to the University of South Alabama Hospital (USA) via a Life-Flight helicopter.
“The lifeguard said I had about 20 minutes left and I was going to go,” Olmstead said. “He said he wasn’t going to sugarcoat me, and he said he knew some professionals who couldn’t have done what I just did for 10 hours. He said it was the critical moment.
“There are two things about it that are important. My wife and kids helped me through that,” Olmstead said. “Something gave me the strength to pull through, and it was them. I didn’t want to leave them like that.
“Second, and most important, is the life jacket. You think it’s not going to happen to you. I’ve been on the water for over 30 years. I’m the safest boater I know. It can happen to you. I’m living proof. Don’t be a hard head. I survived. I have a great story, but the story is if I can help someone else to not being in that position is the most important thing.
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