California Fisherman Credits a Higher Power and a Seal After Surviving Going Overboard

Thankfully, Scott Thompson is an experienced mariner, so he knew exactly what to do to stay alive and safe.

Fisherman Scott Thompson is lucky to be alive after falling overboard from his boat in the middle of the night in Ventura, California.

"And I've literally thought about it a hundred million times," he said. "Like what if I fell off my boat and my boat was in gear?"

"Then I looked up at the sky, and I was like, 'Really?! Like really?! This is how I'm gonna die?'"

Scott knew right away he wouldn't be able to catch his boat, which was in gear and quickly drifting away. But he's an experienced mariner, so he knew exactly what to do.

Since he was using too much energy swimming upright, he turned over on his back. He then saw the bright lights from an oil platform about two to three miles away, and it became clear: he'd have to swim to it.

He told himself it was his only chance at making it back home.

"I just had to keep telling myself, 'yes, you can. Yes, you can," he said, getting choked up as he relived the moment. "You can do this."

And Scott adds that it became no longer about him when images of his wife, two little girls and older son popped into his mind. He had to make it back to them and that propelled Scott to keep swimming.

He made it to that platform, but because it was 52 degrees that night, Scott developed hypothermia from exposure to the cold water.

Captain Carson Shevitz runs tow boat U.S. Ventura, the maritime rescue company that eventually recovered Scott's boat. He says it's incredible Scott survived the conditions, mainly because he went overboard wearing only shorts and a t-shirt. 

But there was also something else motivating Scott to get to that platform: a harbor seal that swam alongside him for a while, which gave him hope and made him feel like he wasn't alone in the world. 

"That's when I started thinking, 'like wow, I'm getting closer. I'm actually gonna pull this off.' And then he was gone," Scott said of the seal.

After a lot of reflection, Scott said he thinks a higher power helped him make it back to land. 

"I looked up and said, 'God, will you please take care of my family?' And that's all I asked," he said. "And the next thing you know, I'm at the oil derrick, and it's like, whoa!"

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