James Grimes: Cruise passenger reveals how he survived 20 HOURS in shark-infested waters after falling off ship
LA FAYETTE, ALABAMA: A passenger on the cruise ship Carnival Valor who spent 20 hours in the ocean after falling overboard claims he has no idea how it happened. James Michael Grimes, 28, claimed he dodged jellyfish, rip currents, and other hazards while struggling in shark-infested waters for about 20 hours after falling overboard on Thanksgiving Eve.
Grimes, who had only been on board for one day prior to the event, had been partying with his sister in a bar on board the ship after winning an air guitar competition when he excused himself to go the restroom and never came back. Twelve hours later, his sister reported him missing. Despite drinking to celebrate winning a contest, he denies being drunk prior to the incident. Grimes said he trod water for nearly 20 hours before being airlifted by the US Coast Guard on November 24, as per Daily Mail.
Man survives 15 HOURS in the water after falling off cruise ship, video shows heroic rescue by US Coast Guard
Australian entrepreneur, 37, dies after falling overboard Royal Caribbean cruise ship where he was celebrating wife's birthday
EXCLUSIVE: James Michael Grimes said he treaded water for nearly 20 hours after falling overboard overboard on a Carnival cruise ship on Thanksgiving Eve -- battling jelly fish, rip currents and shark-infested waters before being airlifted by the U.S. Coast Guard.— Good Morning America (@GMA) December 2, 2022
Grimes believes the fall overboard knocked him unconscious. "The next thing I know, I regained consciousness. I was in the water with no boat in sight," he said. Grimes made the decision right then that he would make it out of the sea while he was all alone in the darkness and the light from the stars and moon. "I felt like I was given a chance right then... you're alive for a reason... that [fall] could've killed me, but I felt like from that moment on, I was trying to stay positive. And, you know when you're here, you're still alive for a reason. So, all you got to do now is swim and survive. I was hoping... they will start looking for me... they will find me eventually," Grimes said, as per ABC News.
"My worst fear is drowning, and that’s something I didn’t want to face," he said, adding that he knew he just had to "swim and survive." As he was swimming in the waters during his nearly 20-hour ordeal, Grimes recalled being approached by a huge creature he initially thought was a shark. "I was swimming in one direction, and I looked around, and I seen it out of the corner of my eye," he said. "It came up on me really quick, and I went under. It wasn’t a shark, I don’t believe. It had more like a flat mouth and came up and bumped one of my legs, and I kicked it with the other leg. It scared me, not knowing what it was. All I could see was a fin."
At one point, Grimes said a stick came floating by that looked like bamboo. "So I started eating on it and it actually, I won’t say it tasted good, but it gave some type of flavor in my mouth other than salt water," he said. Grimes said he tried not to lose hope as the hours wore on. "When it started getting back towards nighttime again, the water started getting colder, [and] at that time I thought, you know, how much longer am I going to have to be out here?" he said. "I was hoping… they will start looking for me… they will find me eventually. I wanted to see my family, and I was dead set on making it out of there. I was never accepting that this is it, this is going to be the end of my life. I’m 28 years old. I’m too young. This is not going to be it."
Grimes was on the five-day Thanksgiving cruise with 18 family members. His disappearance from the ship prompted the Cozumel, Mexico-bound vessel to retrace its path toward New Orleans and the US Coast Guard to launch a frantic search. Grimes was eventually spotted by a cargo ship, and he was airlifted from the ocean. His rescuers believe he was moments away from dying in the water given the hypothermia, shock, and dehydration he was suffering from.
It still isn’t clear how Grimes ended up falling, but the US Coast Guard appeared to suggest he may have breached the cruise ship’s safety barriers in his drunken state.