OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Three 14-year-old girls, who could have easily lost their lives in Biloxi Bay on Saturday, have quite a story to tell when they return to school Monday.
After being separated from their sailing boat, the three were in the frosty water and cold wind for more than three hours as they fought against the current, hoping to get back to the Ocean Springs Yacht Club. They said if it hadn't had been for life vests, law enforcement and two campers, they would not have made it.
The eighth-graders at Ocean Springs Middle School said after about two and a half hours on the water, their boat stalled. So, they jumped off the four-person sailboat to cool off, leaving one to pilot. He eventually lost sight of the girls, and thought they had already gotten to shore. He even got a tow back to the Ocean Springs Yacht Club where they had received the boat.
When he discovered they had not, the emergency calls went out.
Several law enforcement agencies, including the Department of Marine Resources, Ocean Springs Police, and the U.S. Coast Guard were involved in the search that lasted several hours.
The current eventually directed the swimmers to Deer Island.
"We had to stay calm, but once we got to the island, I just had to break down I was so scared," said Emily Davis. "I don't know. If we didn't have life jackets, we wouldn't have been able to make it."
All the while, there were boats in the area, but no one came to help.
"We waved, we screamed. Guess nothing. No one heard us."
Friend Peyton Emperly was also frightened.
"We were all like, 'Okay, let's all just jump out and swim,' because it didn't look that far. But once you're in the water and you start swimming, it's a long way."
"We were weak. We didn't know what to do. We were restless. We were tired," Emily said. "Right when we got to the island, we just laid there, and got eat up by sand gnats."
They eventually found two campers, who let officials know they were safe.
"All the questions that our parents ask us, they're not trying to aggravate us, they're trying to make sure we're going to be okay," Emily added.
"It was a blessing to get the call and even more so of a blessing to see your child and they're fine. They're okay," said father Kym Davis. "Because there's so many things that go through your mind... that they're not going to be okay. It definitely will be an Easter to remember, and to give thanks."