Man Survives After Falling Off Carnival Cruise Ship And Literally Swimming With Sharks For Almost 20 Hours

A male passenger who recently fell overboard while celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday on a Carnival Cruise ship is speaking out for the first time. According to Good Morning America, the passenger, named James Michael Grimes, was missing for almost 20 hours.

Grimes fell into Gulf of Mexico waters on Thanksgiving Eve. As reported by Good Morning America, the 28-year-old was determined to make it out alive.

“Jelly Fish, Rip Currents, And Shark-Infested Waters”

Apparently, Grimes had only been aboard the cruise ship for one day before he was reported missing by his sister. The two were last seen together at a restaurant after he won an air guitar contest.

The 28-year-old then made his way to the bathroom and wasn’t seen again.

According to Good Morning America, that is the last memory that Grimes can recall of that night. He believes his fall overboard knocked him unconscious.

The next thing I know… I regained consciousness. I was in the water with no boat in sight.

Despite his confusion and the darkness that engulfed him, Grimes was determined to survive.

I felt like I was given a chance right then… you’re alive for a reason… that [fall] could’ve killed me, but I felt like from that moment on, I was trying to stay positive. And, you know when you’re here, you’re still alive for a reason. So, all you got to do now is swim and survive. I was hoping… they will start looking for me… they will find me eventually.

According to Good Morning America, Grimes apparently fell into an area that is known to be a feeding ground for sharks. And recalled seemingly being approached by an unknown creature.

I was swimming in one direction, and I looked around, and I seen it out of the corner of my eye. It came up on me really quick, and I went under.

It wasn’t a shark, I don’t believe. It had more like a flat mouth and came up and bumped one of my legs, and I kicked it with the other leg. It scared me, not knowing what it was. All I could see was a fin.

Despite his proximity to the unknown, Grimes says his deepest fear that night was drowning.

I wanted to see my family and I was dead set on making it out of there. I was never accepting that this is it, this is going to be the end of my life. I’m 28 years old. I’m too young. This is not going to be it.

The Rescue

As nightfall approached on Thanksgiving, Grimes was met with one last glimmer of hope. He says he spotted the lights of a tanker ship and swam toward them.

That was my final little burst of energy. The strength that I had — I used pretty much every bit of it too, to try to make it…

When a US Coast Guard helicopter arrived, they hoisted Grimes up from the water. By this time, he was floating 20 miles south of Louisiana’s Southwest Pass, as reported by the New York Post. He was moments shy of suffering from hypothermia, shock, and dehydration.

According to a statement from the Coast Guard, Grimes was then transferred to awaiting emergency medical services at the New Orleans Lakefront Airport.

We greatly appreciate the efforts of all, most especially the U.S. Coast Guard and the mariner who spotted the guest in the water. Cruise ships have safety barriers in all public areas that are regulated by U.S. Coast Guard standards that prevent a guest from falling off. Guests should never ever climb up on the rails. The only way to go overboard is to purposefully climb up and over the safety barriers.

Grimes Is Confident There’s A “Greater Purpose” For His Life

Grimes was aboard the five-day cruise ship with 18 of his family members. The ship was on its way to Cozumel, a Mexican island in the Caribbean.

In an exclusive interview with Good Morning America, he calls the night a “Thanksgiving to remember” and says he now knows there is a “greater purpose” for his life.

I always thought there’s a greater purpose for my life. Now, I know for sure I’m meant to do something on this Earth. And, you know, I don’t know. It was just the Lord was out there helping me, giving me strength, and helping me stay afloat.

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