Shipwrecked fishermen use cooler to stay afloat for 3 days

Posted at 1:32 PM, May 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-07 13:32:33-04

KATY, Texas — Two Texas fishermen have their trusty cooler to thank for surviving a shipwreck last week.

The two boaters stayed afloat for three days in the waters of the Galveston Bay area, thanks to a cooler they carried with them, according to KIAH.

"A wave hit us from the side, the boat flipped over and we were in the water," recalls Raymond Jacik. The fishermen didn't have their emergency equipment with them.  But something unpredicted happened.

"One of the coolers we had actually came up and hit me in the face, and that's when I grabbed the handle," said Michael Watkins. "I made sure that the top stayed up and tried to swim."

Jacik and Watkins went through an odyssey. They clung to the cooler for more than a day, floating, until they were able to move to a different platform. They even survived a lightning storm.

Eventually, a Coast Guard aircrew rescued them and the fishermen were reunited with their loved ones.

"All I was thinking was, 'I want to get back home to my wife,'" Watkins said.

One of the first things they did after reaching dry land was to call Igloo Products Corporation and thank them for what they are calling a miracle.

"We're humble that you're here to express your gratitude," said Mark A. Parrish, the company's President and CEO. "But we're also obligated by who we are and what we stand for in our communities to help us where we can."

Igloo donated a number of good-looking and seemingly very expensive coolers for a fundraiser, to help with the boaters' medical bills. The company employees couldn't believe a cooler they sold was actually a lifesaver.

This incredible experience has created a special bond.  "I don't know where we're gonna fit all of you guys and the Coast Guards at our house for Christmas," Jacik laughed, "but we want you all there too."

So, what's the moral of the story?

"Do wear your life jackets," Watkins said. "Do have your equipment close to you, where you can grab it at any given moment."

And don't forget to bring your cooler.