'I can't go on, I'm gone': Long Island Sound capsized boat survivor recalls rescue

SANDS POINT, Long Island (WABC) -- A 47-year-old woman is grateful to be alive after the boat she was on board Sunday capsized on the Long Island Sound.

Survivor Rafaela Parra-Castro was one of six people on board a 23-foot boat when it took on water and overturned.

She said the boat trapped her in the cabin and her head was just above the surface in a tiny air pocket.

"There were two moments when I thought, 'I can't go on...I'm gone,'" the teary-eyed Castro said. "The water topped my ears and my mouth. There was no possibility of surviving."

Her husband Alberto Castro, who was also on board, made sure his wife would make it out alive.

The 54-year-old showed Eyewitness News the water-logged clothing he wore and his bruised hands -- hands that clung to the cop of the overturned boat. He continually banged on the exposed bottom as wave after wave pounded him, forcing him to swallow salt water.

"Stay calm my love, they're coming," Castro yelled to his wife during the incident. "The firefighters are here, the police are here. Hang on. Talk to me, talk to me."

Conditions for the mother of four -- who doesn't know how to swim -- only got worse as the NYPD was over the scene.

"When the helicopter arrived, the pressure pushed the boat down," Rafaela said. "And right there I thought, 'I'm going to drown because I'm not going to have any room.'"

Rescuers knew they had little time to spare.

"I had two choices," a member of the NYPD said. "I can take her the way that I came, which was very difficult. And I was afraid that if we did get stuck, we would both be underwater. She would spit out the secondary air source, she could fight me. The best decision was to push her right through."

Castro's wife returned home from the hospital early Monday morning. She said her back and shoulders were still sore from holding her head above water for an hour and 20 minutes.

She said there are no words that can adequately express her thanks and gratitude to the rescuers who saved her life.

* More Long Island news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
Copyright © 2020 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.