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  1. #1
    MembersZone Subscriber sconfire's Avatar
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    Talking 'IT'S A MIRACLE' Boys found alive!

    'IT'S A MIRACLE'
    Teenagers rescued off N.C. coast after week at sea
    by Brian Hicks and Ron Menchaca of the Post and Courier
    Original Firehouse Forum thread: http://cms.firehouse.com/forums2/sho...threadid=69325


    photo by Alan Hawes
    Deb Fowler strokes her son Troy Driscoll's hair as he rests in the emergency room.

    SOUTHPORT, N.C.- When the sun rose over the Atlantic Saturday morning, Josh Long and Troy Driscoll were clinging to their 14-foot Sunfish sailboat, praying for the Lord to take them peacefully.

    They had been lost at sea for a week, fleeing sharks, nearly being hit by containerships and struggling to keep their boat upright. They had spent more than six days trying to flag down passing fishing boats, eating jellyfish and singing hymns while their bodies slowly burned and dehydrated under the harsh Carolina sun.

    They tormented each other with fantasies of banana splits and strawberry milkshakes, dreamed of passing Mountain Dew trucks. But they couldn't take it any longer.

    "I asked God to take me," Driscoll said Saturday night as he lay in the emergency room of Dosher Memorial Hospital here. "You're out there fighting for your life. We didn't want to fight anymore."

    Against all odds, Long, 18, and Driscoll, 15, survived. They outlasted many of their searchers, inspired prayers and survived a six-day ordeal that's being hailed as nothing short of a miracle.

    Fishermen aboard a North Carolina fishing vessel named Renegade spotted the teens' sailboat about 4:30 p.m. Saturday, roughly seven miles off the coast of Cape Fear, N.C. The fishermen snagged the boat and hoisted the teens aboard.

    Their families and a relentless corps of rescuers and volunteers had never lost hope. "This is unreal," Long's older brother Jonathan Goerling said as he drove toward North Carolina late Saturday to reunite with his brother.

    Shane Coker, Driscoll's older brother, said he would first hug his sibling. "Then I'm gonna hit him and let him know how much he made us worry."

    "It's a miracle," said Mike Willis, a spokesman with the Department of Natural Resources.

    The rescue capped off a tense and emotional week across the Lowcountry that began shortly after the best friends failed to return from a fishing trip from Station 9 on Sullivan's Island on April 24.

    They were last seen that afternoon. It was a blustery day and the National Weather Service had warned small boats to keep off waterways.

    Within minutes, the boys knew something was wrong, the tug of the current was too strong. They jumped into the water and tried to swim for shore, pulling the boat along with them. They could see the Breach Inlet bridge between Sullivan's and the Isle of Palms. They yelled at people they saw walking along the beach, but no one heard them.

    Before anyone even knew they were missing, they had been pulled out to sea by the current. Within hours, they could no longer see land.

    "We lost our tackle the second day," Driscoll told one of his relatives on the phone. "So we couldn't catch any fish."

    The boys wound up 111 miles away from where they launched. The fishermen on the "Renegade" radioed the Coast Guard, which scrambled a 26-foot vessel from the Oak Island Coast Guard Station in North Carolina.

    The boys were moved to the Coast Guard vessel. They received medical attention on shore and were then taken to the hospital.

    They had no fresh water, no food and, without their fishing gear, no way to catch any. Against their better judgment, they drank saltwater. They couldn't help it, the days were unbearable.

    They would slip into the water to cool off, but sharks chased them back aboard the boat.

    At night, it was freezing. The shared a wetsuit to stay warm.

    Sunburned, dehydrated, exhausted and bruised, the teens were in relatively good shape considering the odyssey, Coast Guard officials said.

    "We were praying for a miracle and we got one," Charleston Coast Guard Cmdr. June Ryan said. "Everybody on the East Coast has been looking for these boys."

    The Coast Guard called Tony Driscoll's cell phone at the Sullivan's Island beach house where the families have been staying throughout the search.

    He said he didn't recognize the North Carolina number on his caller ID, but there was no doubt about the voice on the other end. It was his missing son, Troy.

    Family friend Kay Withrock was at the beach house when the call came.

    "It's Troy," someone shouted. Everyone went hysterical.

    "He started screaming 'It's my boy, it's my boy. He's been found, he's been found,' " Withrock said. "Then the whole house started screaming and crying."

    After that call, Josh Long called his father, who was also at the beach house. Some people ran to neighbors' houses to share the good news.

    The teens' parents and other family immediately headed to North Carolina for the reunion.

    The Coast Guard had suspended its search for the teens Tuesday after 48 hours but continued to do flyovers.

    The state Department of Natural Resources and a spate of other law enforcement agencies continued to comb a search area that grew to include the entire coast of South Carolina. But the boat traveled farther and faster than many had expected.

    Ryan said she was shocked the boys made it so far north. "Had we thought they were any place other than our search grid, we would have been there."

    Long's uncle, Richard Goerling, flew in from Oregon earlier this week to coordinate search efforts between the family and rescue officials. Goerling is a member of the Coast Guard Reserve and a police officer back home.

    Based on his professional background, he figured the boys could not have survived. "I lost hope. Their odds were zero," he said.

    But the families' unshakable spirit kept him going. "They refused to give up. I latched onto their hopes."

    Withrock said she never lost hope. Faith pulled the families through. "You always look for the light." she said. "It shows you that there is always hope, and if you never give up, you will always find the victory."

    Withrock called to share the good news with local businesses that had donated food, drinks and other items to the family.

    One of the calls was to the Olive Garden Restaurant on Rivers Avenue in North Charleston, where sales manager Mark Pierce announced the news to diners. Jubilation swept through the restaurant. One woman burst into tears because her son is a friend of one of the boys.

    "What awesome, awesome news," Pierce said. "I'm still feeling so good."

    While the hardest part is over, this story will have more chapters. The Coast Guard will review its search operation to determine how the boys and their boat stumped the computer models and mountains of weather and nautical data, Ryan said.

    People will be clamoring to ask the boys how they did it. "What we have is an absolutely miraculous story of survival that's going to be studied for years to come," Richard Goerling said. "I think those two boys have a book to write."

    While on the water, the boys saw ships often and stood up in the Sunfish, waving their paddles and yelling. No one saw them. They woke up once to find a containership bearing down on them. The water from the ship's bow's wake splashed into their faces, waking them.

    "It was like some monster building in the water," Driscoll remembered. One night it rained, and they scrambled to catch the precious freshwater in their mouths, to slurp up whatever puddled on the boat.

    As the days passed, their energy ebbed, and they feared they had drifted across the ocean. Their hands locked up like Santiago's in "The Old Man and the Sea." They endured all the torture Hemingway dreamed up for the Old Man, and then some.

    Still, they drifted. By the end of the week, they figured they must be close to the African coast.

    Instead they had drifted 111 miles north, off the North Carolina coast -- far outside the search grid. The computer models had been wrong, just as their families had argued. On Saturday afternoon, as their families were beginning to lose hope, an offshore fishing boat sailed close.

    When they saw the fishing boat, they mustered the strength to stand, wave and yell one more time.

    This time they were spotted.

    The boys don't remember much about their rescue.

    They were pulled aboard the boat, given some water and asked what they wanted to do with the Sunfish. "We told them we didn't want to see it again," Long said.

    Late Saturday night, the family of the two boys crowded the otherwise quiet hospital as they awaited an MUSC ambulance that would take them home. The family attributed the rescue of the two boys to the power of prayer.

    "I was in the Navy for four years, I was out there and I couldn't see them surviving," said Troy's father. "This was definitely God doing his work. He told me, "Dad, I didn't know what you'd do if I didn't come back.'"

    He'll never have to know.

    As the Coast Guard interviewed Driscoll, Long talked to his grandfather by phone in a nearby room. He was exhausted, his eyes barely open, as he clung to a cell phone.

    "I thought about all of you while I was on that boat. I was hoping I would see you again," Long said. "I want the whole family to go out to eat."

    As he spoke, his family broke hospital rules to crowd into the room. As Long talked to his grandparents about family get-togethers, his mother rubbed his hair and hugged him.

    "You're home now, it's not a dream," Connie Long told her son.
    Always remember the CHARLESTON 9

    Captain Grant Mishoe, Curator of History
    North Charleston and American LaFrance Fire Museum
    "You'll never know where you're going until you remember where you came from"
    www.legacyofheroes.org
    www.firehistory.org
    www.sconfire.com


  2. #2
    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    That is incredible!
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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    Thumbs up

    WOW
    I.A.C.O.J. Firefighter/EMT-B

    "I'm gonna drill a hole in your skull and pump out all the stupidity"
    Gunny Ermey


    "Never underestimate the Power of Stupid People in Large Groups"


    Humpty Dumpty was pushed

    Polishing the Chrome on all the IACOJ "apparati"

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    Among all the good and garbage that is posted on this site, finding Captain Driscoll's son Tony and friend Josh alive is about the best I've ever read!!!

  5. #5
    Forum Member nmfire's Avatar
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    Damn. That's incredible. Give it a year or so and there will be a movie on TNT or USA about this....
    Last edited by nmfire; 05-01-2005 at 01:10 PM.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

  6. #6
    Forum Member Res343cue's Avatar
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    Now that's just..

    Damn lucky!

    Glad they were found.

  7. #7
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    Excellent news sconfire!!!!! Nothing like a good shot of proof of faith to brighten someones life.
    IACOJ

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    I have tears of happiness in my eyes for them. What an incredible miracle.

  9. #9
    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    I see "Dateline: Surrvival at Sea" on NBC in the near future.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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    Thumbs up

    YES! ! ! !

  11. #11
    MembersZone Subscriber mcaldwell's Avatar
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    Originally posted by CaptainGonzo
    I see "Dateline: Surrvival at Sea" on NBC in the near future.
    You better believe it!

    And that movie of the week won't be long after.

    Somebody was watching over these boys.
    Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!

    IACOJ

  12. #12
    Forum Member Tooanfrom's Avatar
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    Default Lucky? Stupid? Miracle? Take your pick

    We have funny fireworky things called ---DISTRESS FLARES

    We also have a thing that most teenagers have glued to their ears--CELL PHONES

    Perhaps you will get them over there at some stage-I hope so.

    We had a couple of fatalities in the Bay that we overlook, this happened abot 6 weeks ago-same old scenario-Fishing rods and reels costing thousands of dollars, boat same price range--life jackets$50 too dear.Flares too dear, all on board drowned within sight of the shore

    Funeral for 3?

    $30,000. Untold misery for three families--priceless.

    Welcome to the "wooda-cooda-shooda" world, boys-you got away with it this time-just.
    "If you thought it was hard getting into the job--wait until you have to hang the "fire gear"up and walk away!"
    Harry Lauder 1981.Me on the left!

  13. #13
    Forum Member nmfire's Avatar
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    I was thinking the same thing, but how many people do you know take a flare gun on a sunfish? I know that if I had one and that container ship mowed me down, I'd put a shot so far up his bow, it would end up in on the bridge. I think they should be praised for planning on enjoying the serenity and NOT taking a cell phone, but in hind-sight, it sure would have been nice...
    Last edited by nmfire; 05-01-2005 at 09:59 PM.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

  14. #14
    Forum Member PFire23's Avatar
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    You know, this is a miraculous event for the families involved, one of whom is a BROTHER...... you would think that JUST ONCE the armchair quarterbacking could cease; but no. Give it a rest you guys, these were KIDS and they made an almost fatal error in judgement and I'm pretty sure they don't need you or anyone else judging them. Just be happy they were found alive and their families know happiness instead of unspeakable grief.

    Grant, this is TERRIFIC news. Thanks for sharing with us and keeping us up to date.
    To the world you might be one person, but to one person you just might be the world.

    IACOJ-WOT proud

    GO WHITE SOX!!!!!

  15. #15
    Forum Member Tooanfrom's Avatar
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    Default Different world

    18 year old a kid? Leave it out. My Uncle Ted (and dare I even mention a few Viet Nam Vets) were shot by the enemy at 17 yrs old.
    He copped his( a machine gun bullet in his left lung) in the Germany offensive in 1944/5--was nursed back to health and chucked back into the deep end to finish the war.

    I left home at 15 and joined the merchant navy--nobody said I was a child. Did a mans job--did not get a mans wage-but that is another story.

    Perhaps in the States kids are kids until they are 40?

    Pardon my ignorance-but WTF is a "Sunfish"?
    Last edited by Tooanfrom; 05-02-2005 at 06:14 PM.
    "If you thought it was hard getting into the job--wait until you have to hang the "fire gear"up and walk away!"
    Harry Lauder 1981.Me on the left!

  16. #16
    MembersZone Subscriber sconfire's Avatar
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    18 year old a kid? Leave it out. My Uncle Ted (and dare I even mention a few Viet Nam Vets) were shot by the enemy at 17 yrs old. He copped his( a machine gun bullet in his left lung) in Germany in 1943--was nursed back to health and chucked back into the deep end to finish the war.
    No ones taking anything from your family. Congratulations they made it home safe.

    I left home at 15 and joined the merchant navy--nobody said I was a child. Did a mans job--did not get a mans wage-but that is another story.
    Congratulations on you surviving this very trying and demanding time in your young life (at the time).

    Perhaps in the States kids are kids until they are 40?
    Cheap shot... uncalled for. Kids make mistakes or think they are 10' tall and bullet proof. That nothing is going to happen to them. Maybe thats why you joined the Merchant seamen at 15?! Read the article and go to anyone of your major news websites. They know they did wrong, but they had to deal with what the had to deal with. Quite frankly its a F*@#%N miracle they are alive! They know it and are quite ready to tell you that they made a mistake.

    Pardon my ignorance-but WTF is a "Sunfish"?
    A 14' fiberglass sailboat
    Always remember the CHARLESTON 9

    Captain Grant Mishoe, Curator of History
    North Charleston and American LaFrance Fire Museum
    "You'll never know where you're going until you remember where you came from"
    www.legacyofheroes.org
    www.firehistory.org
    www.sconfire.com

  17. #17
    Forum Member PattyV's Avatar
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    There is a point in so far as when is someone not a kid?
    I have been paying adult prices for movie tickets since i was 12,
    charged adult prices for theme parks since i was 14,
    and firefighting since i was 16. I can run and put that wet stuff on the hot stuff in front of a major bushfire but im not allowed to legally drink. and when i mess something up big time, i am excused cause i am a kid.
    (im almost 18 now and i will be officially an adult)

    I always say 'dont let age be a barrier (many bouncers at clubs dont agree with this train of thought)
    Interesting when you think about it, though back on topic, i am so glad they were safe, i sent up a prayer for them the other night.
    "There are only two things that i know are infinite, the universe and human stupidity. And im not so sure about the former."

    For all the life of me, i cant see a firefighter going to hell. At least not for very long. We would end up putting out all the fires and annoying the devil too much.

  18. #18
    Forum Member PattyV's Avatar
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    Sorry, just venting off steam cause i couldnt go to my friends eighteenth birthday party. The age thingy kinda sent me off.
    "There are only two things that i know are infinite, the universe and human stupidity. And im not so sure about the former."

    For all the life of me, i cant see a firefighter going to hell. At least not for very long. We would end up putting out all the fires and annoying the devil too much.

  19. #19
    Forum Member TCFire's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    This is wonderful news!!! Heard this on the radio coming in to work and wondered if this was in fact the same boys. WOW!

  20. #20
    Forum Member EastKyFF's Avatar
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    GREAT NEWS!!!


    Just a shame they didn't have any peanut butter fish or bread fish to go with the jelly fish.
    "Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.Ē
    --General James Mattis, USMC


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