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May 2019    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 45, No. 5   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Trinidad Diver Survives a 44-Mile Swim

from the May, 2019 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

A very lucky young man survived 16 hours in the water when he got separated from his boat while spearfishing off the coast of Trinidad on April 10, and ended up swimming 44 miles to shore.

Christopher Bugros, 24, blamed strong undercurrents and an unexpected encounter with a bull shark for his parting ways with three diving friends while on a 9 a.m. dive. He surfaced but was unable to make it back to their boat, and although he saw them searching for him, Bugros' friends were unable to locate him. He ended up a mile from the boat before his buddies gave up the search to go back to refuel. Even when he saw them return later, Burgos was unable to attract their attention with his whistle.

So he discarded his weights, wrapped his wetsuit around his empty tank to use as a buoyancy aid, and fashioned a makeshift snorkel from his regulator hose so he could rest his neck for periods. Burgos kept hold of his speargun in case of a shark attack, and also drank seawater periodically in an effort to stave off thirst (not necessarily a good idea).

As night fell, Burgos could see a small beam of light coming from a mountain, which he followed while fighting against strong currents. He finally made it to La Foret beach, on Trinidad's northeastern tip, around 3 a.m. Because of exhaustion, he lay on the beach till daybreak, then finally walked towards the nearest house. Brugos was taken to a local clinic to be treated for exhaustion and dehydration, but staff only gave him antibiotics (they were out of drips), so he collapsed immediately after being discharged. He was then taken to the Hospital, given intravenous fluids and antibiotics, and discharged a day later.

Authorities are now investigating why the clinic didn't have adequate medical supplies to treat Burgos. His family want the same scrutiny of Trinidad and Tobago's Coast Guard for not using air support in his search.

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