Nov 3, 2011 11:41 PM
Most of us seek shelter when a violent storm hits our coast, but imagine being stuck out in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico tossed around by a tropical storm. This is what happened to ten offshore workers who had to abandon their vessel, the Trinity Two, in the Bay of Campeche two months ago during Tropical Storm Nate.
Four of the men were from Louisiana. After two days of battling strong winds and waves the worst of the weather finally passed over the crew of the Trinity Two. The men said they evacuated on Thursday and after battling 95 mile per hour winds and 30 foot waves, the weather finally cleared up on Saturday.
Captain Jeremy Parfait said, "it was hot. We were all blistered up. "
Parfait had already lost one member-Aaron Houweling. Houweling drifted away during one of the first nights. His crew was now cut down to eight and all of the men were getting physically and mentally exhausted, especially 32 year old Craig Myers.
Parfait said, "he would adjust his life jacket and wind up taking it off. He was just really confused."
Engineer Ted Derise Jr. said at one point he was sitting in the raft with Craig.
He explained, " I'm holding him and I have another guy with me. So us three were going to get out, and let the next three guys get in the raft. I said 'alright guys it's time for us to get out,' and when I looked he was just in the fetal position in the raft."
Derise, Nick Reed and Craig were all from New Iberia and had been good friends for years. Parfait says watching their friend die took a toll on everyone.
"We picked him up," Parfait said. "Nick and Ted got to him trying to administer CPR, jut trying to bring him back, but we couldn't get him back."
Derise added, "our goal after that was we got to get out of the water or we are all going to die."
Early Sunday morning, Derise spotted a platform in the distance. The four strongest men-Derise, Nick, Jeremy and another worker started swimming to it and left the other five men including Craig, who was tied inside the raft, behind.
Derise said, "as long as it took us to get that close. It took seconds for the seas to change and push us back out."
"I started drifting away and Nick also started drifting away, "Parfait said. "Me and him were just completely exhausted."
Almost at the point of giving up, Derise saw a boat in the distance.
Derise said, "I was like 'man I see a boat, I see a boat!' and he was like 'go to it man and tell them I'm right here-I can't move.' I didn't want to leave him, but I thought I have to at least try. The boat was seven or eight miles off."
Derise swam within 50 yards of the boat, but it turned away and started leaving.
"I never looked back at the boat," he said. " I focused on these little bitty fish. I was just playing or I think I wanted to eat one and then all of a sudden, I heard a noise and I looked up and there was a plane on top of me."
After more than three days in the water, he was finally rescued about 50 miles off the coast of Mexico. The men who were in the raft had been found four hours earlier. Ted pointed the coast guard in the direction of Parfait and Reed.
Parfait said, "between me going in and out of consciousness. We separated."
Reed's body was eventually recovered, he was one of four men who died. all four men died. Parfait said he was hours away from death himself. His lungs and kidneys were both failing by the time he reached the hospital.
Derise and Parfait are under doctor's care at their homes now, slowly recovering. Both are suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome among other things.
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