A pit stop for a Louisiana father and his 19-year-old son turned into a harrowing experience when the young man was swept out to sea.
Blake Spataro stopped with his father, Kirk Spataro, at Georgia’s St. Simon’s Island last Tuesday to enjoy a dinner off the grill, but when Blake decided to step into the ocean around 7:30 p.m., things took a dangerous turn and he was dragged out to sea.
“My dad was grilling on the beach and I went out to the beach up I swam around a little near the shore,” Blake told InsideEdition.com. “I decided to sit down in the water and that’s when the riptide caught me.”
Blake immediately began screaming and waving to the shore but no one heard, he said.
Kirk Spataro eventually realized his son had been gone for quite some time and began to call out for Blake. He searched the area and then reported Blake missing around 8 p.m. Search teams quickly arrived on the scene but Spataro thought his son had just gotten lost, not entered the water.
Meanwhile Blake, who had already been in the ocean for some time, grew nervous as the sun set. He was unknowingly in shark infested waters.
“I was losing hope until I saw the lights of the helicopters overhead and the light bulbs in the distance,” Blake said.
Search teams didn’t spot the teen as he tread water, however. He'd been pulled about four miles offshore.
“I knew to stay calm and to keep treading water and if I ever grew tired or needed to reserve my energy I just floated on my back for a while," Blake said.
After hours, Blake said the tide began pulling in the direction of the shore and he swam for his life toward it, stopping to catch his breath every few seconds.
His mother, who was at the family’s home in Louisiana, had received a call about him being missing and feared the worst.
“I cried and prayed and prayed to save him, find him, and so I went to Facebook and asked for prayers because I know there is power in prayers,” Janice Spataro said.
She planned to fly down Wednesday morning if Blake wasn’t found, but then, a miracle happened.
Blake was able to swim to shore. He’d been in the water for 10 hours. At 6 a.m. he finally made it back to land.
"Nobody was on the beach but I did see two cars pass by when I made it to the road," Blake said.
He walked 30 minutes to a local golf course where they called an ambulance.
He called his parents immediately and was then transported to the hospital. He was treated for dehydration and mild hypothermia.
“God heard our prayers and answered them because all the people down there were like, 'It’s like this is truly a miracle that he survived that he stayed afloat that long,'" Janice Spataro said.
There’s a lesson Blake said he learned through the ordeal — "never take life for granted."