Songs help stranded fisherman survive

2012-09-12 12:07

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Anchorage - An Alaska fisherman survived for a day floating on frigid ocean waters in a plastic fish crate after his boat sank and said he kept up his spirits by singing.

Ryan Harris, aged 19, told the local newspaper in Sitka, Alaska, that he sang songs like "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" to keep himself awake through the night as the fishing crate bobbed on the waves.

Harris told the Sitka Sentinel that he gave himself a "pep talk", saying for hours on end: "I'm Ryan Hunter Harris and I'm not going to die here."

Harris and his fishing partner, boat skipper Stonie Huffman, went into the water late on Friday when their 28-foot vessel sank off Sitka, according to the US Coast Guard.

Huffman found a survival suit in the debris, donned it and was able to swim to shore before flagging down rescuers, the Coast Guard said.

But Harris spent an estimated 26 hours in the plastic fish tote before he was found by another fishing crew, the Coast Guard said. The fishing crew called for help, and a Coast Guard helicopter crew hoisted Harris to safety on Saturday.

He was in relatively good shape when spotted by the other fishing crew, despite his ordeal at sea, Coast Guard Petty Officer Grant DeVuyst said.

"He was active. He was waving his arms," DeVuyst said. "He was conscious."

Emergency medical responders who examined Harris reported that he had "just a couple of minor injuries", DeVuyst said.

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