Lobsterman rescued hours after falling in ocean

July 25, 2013 2:07:36 PM PDT
The Coast Guard made a dramatic rescue of a lobsterman stranded at sea for 12 hours, just waiting for help to arrive.

John Aldridge, Jr. is back inside, surrounded by his very happy family.

It's all thanks in large measure to his determination and his will to live.

"It's good to be alive," said John Aldridge, Jr., rescued lobsterman.

And now it's good to be home!

John Aldridge, Jr. got hugs from his father and was showing the sunburned signs of floating in the ocean for 12 very long hours.

He can now hold his nephew Jake and has kisses for his mother.

John is equally happy to be on dry land after a harrowing experience.

"I went to move a cooler and the handle broke off and I fell off the back of the boat, just like that," Aldridge, Jr. said.

He was on the Anna Mary, the fishing boat on which he works out of Montauk.

They were about 43 miles from port.

Plunging into the dark waters of the Atlantic, with no life jacket, he then desperately watched as the Anna Mary moved farther and farther out of his reach.

"I just grabbed my boots and filled them with air and put them under my arms and once I did that I realized I was good to go," Aldridge Jr. said.

He had to conserve energy grabbing a buoy to hold on to, and noticed the Coast Guard looking for him.

"I held on there for hours. The Coast Guard jet flew past me and I thought he might have seen me," Aldridge Jr. said.

"12 hours in the water. I don't how he did it. I really don't know how he did it," said John Aldridge, Sr., the rescued lobsterman's father.

John Sr. and the rest of his family, friends, and neighbors could only wait, and hope, and pray.

"John called over and said, 'My son is missing,' and my wife and I were just devastated. We said a little prayer and it worked out," said Walter Lewis, neighbor.

His will to live, he says, was to see his nephew Jake again.

"Yeah, Jakie boy. There was no way I was dying this way. This is how I'm going to go? This is how I have to go? I'm like no way, I'm not counting myself out," Aldridge Jr. said.

The Coast Guard mounted an intense search with help from other commercial fisherman scouring 660 square miles of ocean, eventually spotting him and making the rescue.

"The swimmer came out and jumped in the water and said like, 'We've been looking for you John for nine hours,' and I said, 'I've been looking for you for 12 hours,'" Aldridge Jr. said.

"We just fell apart, the whole house. There were 40-50 people here it was just amazing," Aldridge Sr. said.