80-year-old man survives more than 18 hours in Atlantic
December 12, 2004
MIAMI- An 80-year-old diver spent 18 hours holding on to a buoy in the cold, rough waters of the Atlantic Ocean before a relative found him Sunday, ending an exhaustive search off the Florida Keys.
Ignacio Siberio said he survived with the help of a wetsuit and instincts developed from more than 60 years of free diving and spear fishing. He did not require hospitalization, but was recovering at his weekend home in Tavernier on Sunday night.
“I’m feeling OK, but I got back home pretty beaten up, because I was all night and all day in one spot without moving,” Siberio said in a telephone interview.
Siberio, a lawyer who immigrated to the United States from Cuba, went in his boat to one of his favorite spear fishing spots off Tavernier around 11 a.m. Saturday. By about 2:30 p.m. he realized the boat was no longer anchored.
Siberio said he furiously swam after the boat for about three miles before giving up, grabbing a buoy to a lobster trap and watching his boat drift away in roughly 300-foot-deep waters.
As night fell, the temperature dropped to the 50s in the coldest South Florida night this fall. Winds picked up from the north, churning the seas and tossing Siberio around.
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Siberio, who dives nearly every weekend, said his experience helped him know how to handle the ocean currents and how to cope with the cold water by keeping his body moving.
“You have to concentrate mentally in an extraordinary way so that you don’t get to the point that the cold, the danger, and the fact you are helpless make you quit,” Siberio said. “When you quit, it’s over.”