William Durden, 61, is lucky to be alive.
According to CNN, while fishing alone on his boat in the Homosassa River, north of Clearwater, Florida, Durden fell overboard into the Gulf of Mexico.
A former Navy pilot, Durden managed to survive 20 hours treading water in the gulf without a life jacket or anything to help him float.
His wife contacted authorities after he didn’t return home Wednesday night.
A Coast Guard helicopter found Durden floating in the water after a two hour search Thursday morning. He was 15 nautical miles southeast of Aripeka, Florida.
In an interview, Durden attributes his survival to his optimism, but admitted that passing through the night was the most difficult part of hanging on.
He felt hypothermic, but appeared to be in good condition when rescued by Coast Guard Officer Jacob Latour, who spotted Durden from the helicopter.
Durden said, "I went through different phases, first couple hours, 'I'll find some way to wave down and get on somebody's boat,' then sundown comes and...'I'm gonna have to plan for nighttime now.'
He said he was scared that a shark was going to attack him, but he only felt fish rubbing against his legs.
After the sun rose, Durden repeatedly thought to himself and prayed, “I’m gonna get picked up today.”
Durden’s optimism paid off as he survived nearly a day lost at sea. A little positive thinking can go a long way, as proved by this remarkable survival.
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