A fisherman is lucky to be alive after being thrown off his boat in the dark - before swimming for nearly 10 miles before he was rescued.
“I am not a religious man, but I was praying to God," Damian Sexton told INSIDE EDITION. "It was the bigest nightmare I ever experienced in my life. I didn't think I was going to make it."
He was fishing 40 miles off the coast of New Jersey when he was thrown overboard in dark and stormy weather.
"We went over a big swell. The boat leaned to the side and I fell out. By the time I came up, I saw the boat. It was probably a mile away,” he said.
Sexton’s boat was on auto pilot. His buddy was on board, but he didn't know how to operate the vessel. He did figure out how to call for help.
For the next four hours, Sexton swam.
"I was going to die trying. I had to take off all my clothes. I was completely naked. My clothes were holding me back," he said.
“If I stopped to just tread water, I would have drowned. I swam for about 10 miles. I was not going to give up."
Then, a miracle happened – a passing freighter spotted him.
"Out of nowhere, I saw this giant freighter, and it was getting closer” he said.
A Coast Guard helicopter lifted him to safety.
On Wednesday, Sexton and his family met the Coast Guard heroes who came to his rescue. His wife Robin couldn't stop hugging the pilot who plucked her husband to safety.
“I can’t thank you enough,” she said. Robin knows how close she came to being a widow.
"I could be having an interview, or giving details about his life to someone who's going to write an obituary."
Damian said: "I'm probably the luckiest man in the world right now."
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