ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. (AP) — A tourist says his nighttime stroll on a Georgia beach turned his holiday into the "worst vacation ever" after a rip tide swept him out to sea.
Nineteen-year-old Blake Spataro of Louisiana told WJAX-TV he spent nearly 10 hours in the Atlantic Ocean, where no one could hear his screams over the waves and wind. He says he "didn't want to die out there," so he floated on his back and "was talking to God" the entire time.
"I thought I was too young to die and I simply didn't want to end there," he said in an interview after he was able to make his way back to shore. He was found safe in the early hours of July 11, according to Facebook posts from his mother, Janice.
Spataro, whose family is from Bossier City, has had his story shared far and wide in the days following the incident.
Janice Spataro posted a message of thanks to Facebook in the hours after his rescue.
"I am just so humbled, touched, and beyond words for all the outpouring of love, support and prayers for my son from over a thousand of people from Louisiana and the people down in Georgia. I am beyond belief. It is awesome. Thanks be to the Glory of God that he protected and loved my son and brought him back to land this morning. God Bless everyone for their help," she wrote, adding that he'd be making an appearance on "Good Morning America" Friday.
Glynn County Emergency Management Director Jay Wiggins writes on Facebook that officials were about to switch the search from rescue to recovery Wednesday when they learned the teenager was alive. He had floated 3 miles (5 kilometers) and then realized he could walk ashore on a Sea Island golf course.