Rescued Boaters' Lacerations Were 'Almost Down to the Bone'

The Louisiana men were forced to fend off sharks
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 11, 2022 2:39 PM CDT
Rescued Boater: 'The Shark Bit the Life Vest in Front of Me'
In this image provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, a Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans aircrew member holds up a torn life jacket from a recent rescue off the coast of Empire, La., on Oct. 9, 2022.   (U.S. Coast Guard via AP)

More details are emerging in the harrowing story of three missing boaters who were rescued Sunday after spending 28 hours in the water after their boat sank—and being forced to fend off sharks. That the Louisiana men were found at all is wild: After family members reported they didn't return from a Saturday morning fishing trip, a portion of the Gulf of Mexico the size of Rhode Island was searched, to no avail. Phong Le tells ABC News he set off swimming in hopes of finding help. With 2% battery left on his phone, he managed to hit an area where he had cell service and was able to text a Google Maps screenshot of his location to a relative.

It lacked coordinates, but the Coast Guard was able to deduce the location and get to the area within two hours—at which point they spotted Lee's friends, Son Nguyen and Luan Nguyen, holding on to two coolers they had managed to tie together and fighting off sharks. "The shark bit the life vest in front of me," Nguyen said. "I punched him in the face. ... I took my two thumbs and jabbed him in the eyes, and he took off."

"They had multiple lacerations on their hand, almost down to the bone, indicative of a shark bite and serrated edges indicative of a shark’s tooth puncturing their hands," Lt. Katy Caraway with the US Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans told Today on Tuesday of the two men. Le was located about a half-mile away. “It’s difficult for us to describe how lucky they were," Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Keefe told Today, per the AP. "All these things happened in their favor.” (More missing boater stories.)

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