Swimmer survives 8 hours in ocean after disappearing off St. Simons Island

Glynn County EMA director: Young man floated across inlet, found off Sea Island

By Colette DuChanois - Web producer

GLYNN COUNTY, Ga. - A young man survived more than eight hours in the Atlantic Ocean after he disappeared Tuesday evening off the Georgia coast, authorities said.

Glynn County Emergency Management Agency Director Jay Wiggins said he received the good news Wednesday morning. 

"You know, I realized today that in my time as EMA Director, I have delivered a lot of bad news, evacuation orders, severe weather alerts, lost or missing persons, and of course the most difficult --notifying a family of the loss of a loved one," Wiggins wrote in a Facebook post on the Glynn County EMA and Homeland Security Facebook page. "When I call on our public safety partners, fire, police, sheriff, 911, etc., the first thing they ask is 'What’s wrong?'"

Wiggins said the swimmer, who he described as a young man, was reported missing Tuesday night after likely being pulled out by a rip current off the beach on St. Simons Island.

Multiple agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard, began an intensive search in dark conditions, but could not find the swimmer. 

As authorities were getting ready to open a command post to continue the search for what Wiggins said they "feared may be a recovery" effort, he received a phone call notifying him that the young man had floated across the inlet and ended up several miles north at Ocean Forest on Sea Island.

That's where, Wiggins said, the young man was able to make contact with employees -- after spending more than eight hours in the water.

"He is so blessed," the director's Facebook post reads. "He is alive and well."

Wiggins said the young man, who was visiting the area with his family, was hospitalized as a precaution.

"The opportunity to speak with the young man's father and let our public safety partners know the positive outcome of this situation made my day," Wiggins said. "Let this be another reminder please be careful when swimming in the ocean, you can get in trouble very quickly! Thank you to everyone that was involved. Good news is the best!"

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