FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A local man and his friend end up drifting off the Florida Keys over the weekend. They floated for hours on end until the Coast Guard and a good samaritan on another boat rescued them.
Bill Oswald said he and his friends have been diving together for more than 20 years. This weekend, when seas got rough, things got scary when they became separated from the other thing that connected them to dry land.
"Just one of those things, it happens before you know it. I never thought it would happen to me," said Oswald.
After 20 years of diving, Oswald said the name of his boat, 'Reel Livin', has a whole new meaning.
"I was just thinking about where I was and what was going on and just trying to stay there and stay alive.
On Saturday at about 4:30 p.m., Oswald and his friend Greg Collier, were doing drift dives, catching fish, 14 miles off the coast of the Marquesas Keys, something they've done hundreds of times. Oswald said this time something went wrong.
"We went in the direction of the wind and not the direction of the current and I could see them maybe 300 feet away and they just couldn't see us. It was rough. It was probably two to three foot seas and we just got separated from them and it happened quicker than you could think, possibly think it could," said Oswald.
After an hour, the crew couldn't find the two men so they called in the Coast Guard but even then, the hour, turned into an all night search.
"They flew right over us with the helicopter several times and we were waving our spear guns up in the air and they couldn't see us. We were waving as hard as we could but all the boats were looking in the wrong direction," said Oswald.
On Sunday at about 10:30 a.m, nearly 18 hours after Oswald got separated from his boat, the 'Yankee Freedom' which was on the way from Key West to the Dry Tortugas, rescued Oswald. About an hour later, the U.S. Coast Guard rescued his friend. Oswald said he was thinking more about what he needed to do than the fate that could have been.
"I was in more of a survival mode. I didn't really think about it a whole lot but I did think about it," said Oswald.
Oswald suffered from minor dehydration and jellyfish stings all over his body. He said his advice for others, keep a level head.
"Just say calm, don't panic and that's about all you can do," said Oswald.
Oswald said in the future he plans to have a dive flag in tow, he didn't have one this weekend.