Kayaker and fisherman David Wright was stranded in Florida’s Intracoastal Waterway in Fort Pierce when his kayak sank in late June. He was stranded for nearly 5 hours before a marine mechanic just happened by on his trawler. Tom Korinek rescued Wright at 4 am on June 28, saving his life.
In a video of the rescue, Korinek asks, “What happened here?” and Wright answers, “My f—ing kayak went down […] probably two and a half miles [away].”
Wright looks physically exhausted in the video. As he climbed up on Korinek’s boat, he continued. “Every boat I screamed at, dude, I kept facing those fishing vessels and trying to get to ’em.”
Korinek also posted an update on Wright on social media. “So about the kayaker I picked up on the waterway the other night here in Fort Pierce, Florida,” he began, “I was just cruising down the waterway doing about six knots listening to my music, sitting up on the helm, and all of a sudden I heard somebody yelling, I thought it was over the VHF [very high frequency radio]. So I hit my pause button and pulled the throttles back and I just figured it was probably a couple of boaters broke down on the treeline or something.”
He continued, “So I got up to him, threw the life ring to him. I got him on the back deck, he went down inside, got warmed up a little bit, took a little rest. And by the time we got to a dock where I dropped him off, he was coherent and he was making sense again. So, he’s back on land.”
Boater Saves Kayaker After He Was Stranded for Five Hours
Wright told WPBF out of West Palm Beach that he “made peace with death” while he was treading water. Then, he saw Korinek’s boat. According to Wright, he lent his kayak to a fellow fisherman while on a sandbar. He thinks the other man may have damaged it somehow. Paddling home, he began to sink. David Wright is a former brown beret with the United States Army, and he said his training kicked in while he was out there.
“As I ran out of energy and as a storm kicked up it just got worse and worse and worse and basically I had to let go of every worldly possession,” he told WPBF. “Super cold, teeth chattering, muscles locked, that happened hours ago, so I’m pre-hypothermia, hypothermia.” Then, five hours in, he spotted a boat. “I was screaming mayday, mayday, I’m a fisherman in the water I have no vessel,” Wright recalled.
Miraculously, Korinek wasn’t even supposed to be out on the water at 4 am. A mechanical issue on his boat put him behind schedule. Korinek told the news outlet, “I had no business being out there at 4 o’clock in the morning.” But, as Wright put it, “It was just some kind of universal communication, that’s all I can say.”
The two men became fast friends, with Wright singing Korinek’s praises. “You are my guardian angel, Tom. Thank God you were there,” he told Korinek. The two are planning to start a business together to educate people about safety at sea.