A boatman in Southern California who fell into the sea got help from an unexpected source when he thought all hope was lost.
“I thought to myself, ‘Great, this is how I’m going to die,’” Scott Thompson told ABC 7 this week. “‘Today is the day I’m going to die.’”
In January, he accidentally fell from his boat, the Miss Grace, and into the freezing Santa Barbara Channel. To make matters worse, he was miles from shore and the boat motored off into the distance.
“That’s when I realized, like, ‘OK, we got problems,’” Thompson recalled, adding he began swimming “as hard as I could, towards the boat, and it really didn’t take too long to realize like, it’s getting farther, I’m not getting closer.”
Although he is an expert diver and swimmer, Thompson began to panic. However, thoughts of his loved ones kept him going.
He said, “I was devastating myself, through my mind, just picturing my girls and my son growing up without me, and my wife, you know, not having a husband to support her… I wasn’t thinking about sharks or anything like that, until I hear this splash.”
The splash was from a harbor seal, according to Thompson, who explained, “The seal would go underwater and he came up and nudged me, like a dog comes up and nudges your leg.”
The National Park Service’s website said harbor seals can live for up to 40 years in the wild. They can also dive 1400 feet and stay underwater for almost 30 minutes.
“Toby,” the first male harbor seal pup born at the Aquarium of the Pacific, in Long Beach, California. (Photo: Damian Dovarganes/AP)
Thompson saw the creature’s nudge as encouragement not to give up. “Did it know, like hey, this human is in trouble, hey keep going, dude?” he said.
The push gave the boatman the courage to make it to an oil platform, and the Coast Guard later transported him to a hospital, where he was treated for hypothermia and other conditions.
His boat was later found on a rocky beach at Anacapa, according to the GoFundMe page.
“She was still in one piece but took some serious damage and will need repair before he’s able to take her back out to work,” the website reads.
As of Saturday afternoon, the page had raised $13,705 to cover repairs and help the family.