Overboard shrimper opens up about life-saving swim

Overboard shrimper opens up about life-saving swim
The red line shows where Sevel believes he swam. (Photo source: WLOX)
The red line shows where Sevel believes he swam. (Photo source: WLOX)

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - A routine shrimping trip on the Gulf took a turn for the worst Sunday night. A seasoned shrimper was headed back to shore with his catch when he suddenly found himself overboard. Mitchell

Sevel has been shrimping for over 30 years, but he said Sunday night was a first for him. According to Sevel, a rogue wave hit the boat causing him to slip and go over portside. To make matters worse, the boat kept going and he was stranded miles from the shore.

"I was hollering. He kept going because the door was closed, generator was running; he didn't hear me," Sevel recalled.

He knew he had to make a choice, and he had to make it quick. By his calculations, he was about four miles away from shore.

"That's when I started getting more water in me," said Sevel.

But he was determined to try, or die trying. If his estimates were correct, he worried he wouldn't have enough energy to make it to land alive.

"You know, I have kids and grandkids, and I started thinking, and I kind of wanted to quit," said Sevel.

He said it felt like a lifetime had passed, and if he let the current take him, he would end up in even deeper water. But lessons of resilience from his father gave him strength, and thoughts of his wife gave him the motivation he needed.

"And I see Lori in my head, and I've got to kick, you know, I've just got to kick," said Sevel.

Meanwhile on land, his wife was trying to deal with the news that her husband was missing at sea.

"Most people felt that there was no chance that he was going to make it," said Lori. But she was holding on and knew the night was not over. "He would find a way. I just knew he'd find a way," she said.

After hours of fighting the Gulf waters, Sevel saw something in the distance. He was hoping that it was a sign of land, but thought he might be hallucinating. Then his feet hit sand.

"I took another walk, took another step and there was more sand," said Sevel.

Five more steps, and he knew the swim of his life was finally over. "Just don't give up, you know. Just don't give up, keep trying," said Sevel.

As soon as he got to dry ground in West Pass Christian, Sevel made his way to the Henderson Point Condos and pulled the fire alarm. He was eventually reunited with his wife and family members around 1:30 Monday morning.

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