BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Three Ocean Springs teens credit life vests with saving their lives. The 14-year-olds were on a sailboat with a friend Saturday when the boat stalled. After being stuck for a while, the girls decided to swim to shore to get help, but the current had another plan for them.
"Saturday was nothing more than a miracle," said Department of Marine Resources Marine Patrol Chief Keith Davis.
Davis said the girls' story of survival could have easily been tragic.
"These children are so fortunate that they have their lives today," Davis said. "Thank God they were wearing their life vests when they decided to leave the vessel they were riding on."
The teens were stranded in the middle of the Biloxi Channel. They could see the Ocean Springs Yacht Club and tried to swim to shore.
"Even though they were good swimmers, the current is strong and most of the time, unbearable," Davis said.
The girls fought the current in the frosty water for hours.
"We were weak," Emily Davis said. "We didn't know what to do. We were restless. We were tired."
Instead of getting to shore, the girls ended up on Deer Island.
Davis said this is a good reminder to all boaters about safety equipment that should be in every boat before leaving the dock.
"One of the main things is life vests. Number two is to have some type of flare available where you can shoot off a flare, and third, there has to be some type of audible device on the vessel so you can notify other boaters as they pass by you," Davis said.
If your boat is ever stranded, he said put on a life vest and stay with the boat as long as possible.
"We want to make sure people enjoy this natural resource we have, but maintaining safety at the same time," Davis said.
The DMR offers free boating safety classes. In fact, the teen who stayed on the sailboat is already signed up for the class. His mother said they are also going to buy a safety kit this week so he can take it with him every time he goes sailing, even though it's not required on boats without motors.
Learn more about boating safety here: http://dmr.ms.gov/, or the boater safety classes here: http://dmr.ms.gov/index.php/marine-patrol/boat-a-water-safety/429-2014-2015-bw-safety-classes.