Florida fisherman treads water for 20 hours

Posted at 8:26 AM, Jun 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-03 10:24:14-04

(WFLA/NBC) A Florida fisherman is back on land after he was missing for 20 hours in the Gulf of Mexico.

Bill Durden says he was fishing about 18 miles offshore from the Homossasa River, about 75 miles north of Tampa, when he fell overboard.

His boat motored away and he was left treading water.

Durden’s wife reported him missing, and that's when the coast guard says boat and helicopter rescue crews were launched.

Early Thursday morning, Durden says his prayers were answered.

"They flew by, and I thought, ‘They didn't see me,’ but then a few hundred yards later, they dropped the flare and I was like, 'Yes. I'm going to live through this thing,’” said Durden.

"When you're watching your boat motor away, you go well we're either going to do it or just stay out here and die," said Durden.

Durden was checked out by medical personnel, and besides being dehydrated, tired and cold, he didn't suffer any injuries.

Durden credits his Navy training for helping him survive.

Courtesy: WFLA via NBC News Channel