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Briella TomassettiOct 9, 2017, 8:29 pmOct 9, 2017, 9:04 pm

Capsized kayaker rescued after surviving 17 hours in Long Island Sound

Fisherman says he clung to pragmatism as hypothermia set in


A distressed fisherman from Huntington spent 17 hours battling for his life in the Long Island Sound after his kayak capsized in rough waters over the weekend.

“The wind and the tide was just coming into the kayak faster than I could get rid of it, and the water was filling it with holes, making it unstable," Michael Diaz, 56, explained over the phone from his hospital bed.

Diaz says he was paddling towards Caumsett State Park at around 6:00 p.m. on Saturday night. He was only about 100 feet from the shore when his kayak flipped. Diaz then tried reaching for his phone to call the police but it was already inundated with water.

Several hours later, the kayak completely sank underwater.

"It was me and my PFD, my personal flotation device, at that point. Thank god I always have the habit of wearing it, I know some people don't always wear their PFDs on a kayak," Diaz said.

Because Diaz never came home that night, his roommate called the police and reported him missing.

While Diaz was hoping for a miracle, officers from both the Nassau and Suffolk County Police Marine bureaus, along with the Nassau County Aviation Bureau, members of the U.S. Coast Guard, and several volunteer fire departments worked hard searching for him in the choppy waters.

During that search, three of the marine bureau officers heard a call over “VHF” radio reporting a man clinging to the rocks near Norwalk, Connecticut.

They found Diaz stranded in his life jacket at around 11:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, lying on a platform near the Greens Ledge Lighthouse.

"I knew that dehydration and hypothermia could eventually become an issue, but I just blocked that out saying, 'we'll address that when the time comes, right now let's focus on finding a way back, and finding an option that would work,'" Diaz said.

Diaz is now being treated at Norwalk Hospital for hypothermia and is expected to make a full recovery.

Police say there was a small craft advisory in effect at the time of his rescue, which is meant to warn people that conditions may be hazardous for small boats.

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