Father: Son Survived By Thinking About Family, Used Boots As Flotation Device

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The father of rescued lobsterman John Aldridge said his son survived 12 hours in shark-infested waters — without a life jacket — by thinking about his family, WCBS 880’s Mike Xirinachs reported.

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“He said he was driven by family, you know, he didn’t want to let us down,” John Aldridge Sr. said Thursday. “I don’t know how he did it.”

Dehydrated and badly sunburned, the 45-year-old fisherman was brought to a Cape Cod hospital after being pulled from the water. He was released Thursday morning.

John Aldridge, 45, who works on the crew of the commercial vessel Anna Mary, had been missing after going overboard Wednesday offshore from Montauk.

“I went to move a cooler and the handle broke off and I fell off the back of the boat, just like that,” Aldridge told CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider.

The boat was moving away quickly and Aldridge was left floating in the choppy water with only his survival instincts to keep him alive.

“There’s no way I’m dying this way. Is this how I have to go? I’m like no way!” he said. “I wasn’t counting myself out, ya know?”

Aldridge spent hours treading in the dangerous water, placing his rubber boats under his arms as a makeshift flotation device.

The incident occurred around 3 a.m.m, and a search began right away — with rescue boat crews from Coast Guard Station Montauk, two 87-foot rescue patrol boats, two rescue helicopters and aircraft, as well as local fishing vessels and Good Samaritans. The search went on for more than eight hours, the Coast Guard said.

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Aldridge said he noticed the helicopters and the boats looking for them. He said he also noticed something else — shark fins.

“That night I saw a fin or two in the moonlight right by me,” he said. “I just had to keep my composure, I can’t panic because if you panic it will bring more of them.”

PHOTOS: FISHERMAN RESCUED OFFSHORE FROM LONG ISLAND

Despite the intense ordeal, Aldridge’s father said his son hopes to be back on the water soon.

“He’s in the business. This is what they do,” he said.

Aldridge also said the first thing his son did upon reuniting with his family was apologize for upsetting the family.

Gripping video of the rescue shows just how intense the conditions were while Aldridge awaited his rescue:

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