James Michael Grimes spent nearly 20 hours alone, treading water in the Gulf of Mexico after falling off a cruise ship. He spoke about the experience, saying it has taught him to not take life for granted. 

“My worst fear is drowning and that was something I did not want to have to face,” said Grimes, according to an ABC News report. “I wanted to see my family again. I was dead set on making it out of there. I never accepted that this was it, that this was going to be the end of my life,” he added.

Also Read | Who was Quentin Oliver Lee, Broadway actor, dead at 34?

Who is James Michael Grimes?

James is 28 years old and lives in Lafayette, Alabama. He was with 18 relatives on a Carnival Cruise to Cozumel, Mexico, when somehow he ended up overboard after a day of fun.

Also Read | Watch Fortnite Chapter 4 Season 1 trailer: Release date, new characters, map, and more

He had won an air guitar contest held on the cruise on November 23 and remembers telling his sister around 11 pm that first night on board that he was going to the bathroom, he said. What happened next remains unclear. James said he doesn’t remember falling or landing in the water but insists he wasn’t drunk despite celebrating the win. He claims he wasn’t “inebriated”, but had taken some drinks.

Also Read | Watch: Nick Cannon, father of 11 children, discuss holiday shopping ahead of Christmas

James said, “When I came to, regained consciousness, I was in the water with no boat in sight. I can’t float myself, even when I’m trying to. So there had to be … the Lord was with me while I was out there because something was holding me up the whole time I was passed out.”

Also Read | Watch The Last Of Us trailer starring Pedro Pascal, Bella Ramsey

At one point, James said he thought he saw the fin of a shark, kicking at something that bumped into his leg. Later, he chewed on a stick he found floating in the water that seemed like bamboo. As the sun began to set, the water started getting colder, said Grimes.

Also Read | Why Taylor Swift fans are suing Ticketmaster

Then, he saw the lights of a tanker ship and started swimming toward it. James was at his limit when a crew arrived to help save his life said US Coast Guard Aviation Survival Technician Richard Hoefle. He was rescued by the Coast Guard on Thursday, November 24.