Shrimpers Talk About Near-Death Experience

What started as a typical sail nearly turned deadly for three shrimpers. On Friday Frank Lywiski was working aboard his boat along with two other men when it caught fire. Now the "Miss Linda" is at the bottom of Mississippi Sound. It was a nightmare but no dream for Lywiski and his crew. On the way back from a routine trip to cat island a nearby boater noticed that something was wrong.

"He called me on the radio and said there was smoke coming out the boat, and I opened the engine room up and there was a flame." said Lywiski. "We sprayed five extinguishers in it and couldn't get the fire out."

Within five minutes the entire boat was engulfed in flames. Deck hand John Norman soon realized that saving the boat was useless and they needed to use that precious time to save themselves.

"When I went back in the cabin and the entire cabin was engulfed in flames, it's time to go," said Norman.

All Lywiski has of his boat now are sketches he drew of the "Miss Linda". Although the 56-year-old shrimp boat sank with thousands of dollars of equipment and everything John Norman owned.. everyone is looking at the bright side.

"You take life for granted. Right at the end right before we got off on that other boat and before it could get to us, I didn't know if we was gonna have another day," said Lywiski. "I just thank God that we all got off alive."

Lywiski, Norman and a third man were rescued by the shrimper who had radioed them about seeing the smoke. All got through the ordeal without any serious injuries. Norman, who was living on the boat is staying with Lywiski until he can get another deckhand job. Both men say they don't want it to happen again, but they won't let fear keep them from sailing out again as soon as they get a chance.