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Alaska Beat

Alaska fisherman survives 26 hours clutching fish bin after boat capsizes (+VIDEO)

  • Author: Craig Medred
  • Updated: September 27, 2016
  • Published September 11, 2012

In Sitka, a 19-year-old fisherman who survived more than 24 hours floating at sea, clutching a 4-by-4 foot plastic fish bin, was rescued unharmed by helicopter on Sunday.

The Associated Press reports that Ryan Harris, of Sitka, was fishing with Stonie "Mac" Huffman, in his mid-40s, when their 28-foot boat was hit by waves and capsized. The pair fell into the water before managing to send out a mayday signal. Neither wore wearing the survival suits aboard the boat.

"It's truly a miracle they survived," Sitka Mountain Rescue Director Don Kluting told the Associated Press.

The men grabbed a few empty fish totes that were floating nearby. Harris climbed inside one, and Huffman grabbed a plastic bin lid for flotation. They were soon separated by eight-foot waves.

And then Harris waited. For 26 hours.

"I gave myself a pep talk," he told the Associated Press. His mantra, which he repeated for four hours: "I'm Ryan Hunter Harris and I'm not going to die here."

Huffman found a survival suit and was able to reach Point Amelia, where troopers spotted him on the beach. The Coast Guard dispatched four helicopters over the course of the day, and four boats were sent out by the Alaska State Troopers and Sitka Mountain Rescue.

Harris was mostly unharmed, save for blisters on his hands and a cut above his eye.

Read more and see the photos, here.

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