He fell into the sea from a cruise ship, swam among jellyfish and sharks and survived to tell the tale

James Michael Grimes saw death up close. The 28-year-old, originally from Alabama, wanted to celebrate the start of Thanksgiving in late November. For this purpose he boarded the Carnival Valor cruise ship in New Orleans, bound for Cozumel, in Mexico. At that time he did not imagine that he would have to fight for his life and would be stranded in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico for 20 hours.

In an interview for Good Morning Americaof ABC Newsthe young man told his incredible experience, which was classified by the Coast Guard as “The Miracle of Thanksgiving”. His vacation stay was going on as normal, until, at a time that to this day cannot be explained, fell overboard from cruise ship. In the middle of nowhere and unable to ask for help, he waited almost a whole day to be rescuedwhile facing jellyfish, and even mentioned that several sharks swam near him.

A young man survived after falling from a cruise ship and floating for 20 hours

James was enjoying his stay on the Carnival Valor. It was just his first day and he watched the shows with his family. According to his account, he was not drunk, as he had only had a few drinks when he told his sister that he was going to go to bed. At that moment, the clock said 11:00 p.m.

What happened next is a blur in his memory. “Next thing I knew I was in the water with no boat in sight”he shared in the interview, so he has no idea how he ended up in the wild waters of the sea.

The next day, her sister discovered she was nowhere on the cruise ship and immediately reported her missing. As soon as the authorities found out, they launched an operation to find him. The Carnival Valor returned to its initial route and notified the Coast Guard.

It was the 28-year-old's first day aboard the Carnival Valor cruise ship.
It was the 28-year-old’s first day aboard the Carnival Valor cruise ship.Good Morning America / YouTube

While that operation was mounted, Grimes was fighting to survive to see his family again. His mind tried to keep the target in sight. I thought I was “too young to die”, so he tried to be positive. That was the attitude he took and while he swam, he faced the force of the water and saw the marine animals go by: “I felt like I was given a second chance at that moment”revealed.

The United States Coast Guard told him ABC News that the only way to fall overboard was to climb over the safety barrier with which all cruise ships have. He assured that all these boats have public areas regulated by the strictest safety standards, so the mystery grows and it is still unknown how James ended up in the water.

Despite his experience, did not suffer serious injuries. Once he was rescued, he was airlifted to a hospital for medical attention. Those hours made a difference in his life. After this “miracle”, as he describes it, now has the conviction that “he is destined to do something in this world”.


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