After Boat Capsizes, Man Swims 16 Hours to Safety

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Today Show

Charles Gibson was one of the 43 individuals aboard The Erik, a 115-foot chartered fishing boat on a holiday expedition.  Early Sunday morning, The Erik capsized approximately 60 miles off the coast of San Filipe, Mexico, a result of treacherous sea conditions. Gibson, after a 16-hour fight for his life, survived, and was found washed ashore on a nearby island.

Gibson is a chief of police at Contra Costa College in San Pablo, California.  He, along with 27 other men came together for a fifth annual fishing trip.  The Erik embarked Saturday for a planned seven-day expedition of sport fishing.  The captain, however, failed to heed warnings of impending threatening weather conditions.

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Ship crew member Jesus Sillas told NBC, “The port (San Filipe) was closed.  There were no ships coming or going, but we left anyway.”

After being abruptly woken from a deep sleep early Sunday morning, Gibson was told the ship was sinking.  He tells the Today Show’s Carl Quintanilla, “We decided to swim for shore, and we all got separated.  For about nine of the sixteen hours out here I was alone.”  When asked about his experience in the water, Gibson also said, “I think it was a total of my life experience that I kept reflecting on.”

The U.S. Coast Guard and Mexican Navy are still involved in search and rescue of several, still missing passengers.  While many of The Erik’s passengers were saved, recent reports confirm that one is dead, and six, still missing.

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