Brother and Sister Swim 14 Hours To Save Their Own Lives

Owen Poindexter
With the words "jump out!" a relaxing fishing trip turned into a long ordeal for Dan and Kate Suski.

Dan and Kate Suski swam and willed themselves through a terrifying experience.
Dan and Kate Suski, from San Francisco and Seattle respectively, were hoping for a little R&R on their fishing trip that launched from St. Lucia, a popular vacation island in the Caribbean. The trip turned from that into an ordeal that brought the siblings to the edge of their mortality with two words: "Jump out!"
The captain shouted those words because the boat was sinking. The electrical system had failed. That somehow led to a flood in the engine room and the entire boat going down. The captain had time to radio for help, and the Suskis, the captain and the one other crew member on the Suskis' commissioned trip tread water for an hour while they waited for help.
At that point, Dan and Kate decided to split from the captain and the crew member and swim. They were 8 miles from shore, battered by 12 foot waves and rain from above. Amidst all that, they lost sight of land in the distance.

A rescue helicopter searched for them, but could not spot the two humans amidst the swirling sea. The sun was setting, and survival was far from certain.

"There's this very real understanding that the situation is dire," Kate Suski said. "You come face-to-face with understanding your own mortality ... We both processed the possible ways we might die. Would we drown? Be eaten by a shark?"

"Hypothermia?" Dan Suski added.

"Would our legs cramp up and make it impossible to swim?" Kate continued.

It's a miracle that none of that did happen. The two said they couldn't stop thinking about sharks, but it's the other reasons they named that probably would have done them in eventually.

"I thought I was going to vomit I was so scared," she said.

They swam for 12-14 hours, but even then, survival wasn't guaranteed. They couldn't find anyone in the night, so they found some grass to sleep on and tried to keep warm. The next day, they hiked through the brush, picking unripe bananas and mangoes.

"It was probably the best and worst banana I've ever had," Dan said.

Eventually they found a farmer, found a hospital, survived. Phew. 

And what about the captain and the mate? They were still being looked for when Dan and Kate made it to the hospital. They were in the water for 23 hours before they were found, alive.

"Since this ordeal, I've been waking up at dawn every morning," said Kate. "I've never looked forward to the sunrise so much in my life."