Sunday, June 28th will always be a day that Sea Tow Wrightsville Beach Capt. Scott Collins remembers. It was the day he pulled 29-year-old Daniel Fisher from the water, unconscious and lifeless, but performed CPR to bring him back to life.
For spearfishing, it was the perfect day – sunny, clear and calm in the Intracoastal Waterway. Daniel, like so many other times, headed down to a spot near the Wrightsville Beach Bridge, a place where lots of fish can be found. He put on his wetsuit, checked his gear and headed into the water to try and catch dinner. A nice sized grouper hanging out around the bridge pilings would be a tasty later, if he could find one.
Around 4:30 p.m. that afternoon, things went terribly wrong for Daniel.
Capt. Scott happened to be returning from a job when he was flagged down by another boater.
“I remember seeing this lady waving her hands and trying to flag me down,” said Capt. Scott, who served in the United States Coast Guard and has 20 years with Sea Tow. “She said, ‘we just saw someone floating face down in the water. Can you go help? It looks like the person is headed into an area with lots of boat traffic.’”
Scott quickly turned his Sea Tow boat to the port-side and headed into the area where he was told the body was floating. A few seconds later, he spotted something, it was Daniel, floating face down in the water.
“Just seeing a lifeless body in a black wet suit face down in the water, I immediately thought the worst,” he recalled. “I pulled the diver onto my boat. He was unconscious, not breathing and had no pulse. I will never forget the look on his face.”
Since the water was somewhat murky that day, Daniel was likely having to go to the surface, breathe quickly and then dive back down holding his breath for long periods of time, trying not to lose the location of the fish he wanted.
When this practice is repeated over and over there is often a lack of oxygen to the brain causing a symptom known as: Shallow Water Blackout. It was later determined that Daniel had experienced just that.
With Daniel lying on the deck of the boat, Capt. Scott immediately began CPR. He remembers lots of water coming from Daniel’s mouth. Time after time, he would administer chest compressions and then check for a pulse. While administering CPR he gently eased the boat into gear and set the wheel towards the dock. “I remember seeing some individuals on the dock of a nearby marina that were watching the entire event unfold and I yelled, ‘Please call 911!’” Capt. Scott said. As he slowly approached he put the boat in neutral and they were able to tie him off. What felt like minutes in reality was only seconds and finally a faint heartbeat could be felt .
“Emergency personnel showed up and took Daniel to the hospital. I just happened to be in the right place, at the right time,” Capt. Scott said.
While Capt. Scott did not know Daniel at the time of the rescue, he has since met him, his wife, and has even spoke with Daniel’s father many times over the phone.
“I’m just grateful,” Scott said. “Whenever something like this happens it’s tragic. I was just glad I was there and Daniel has recovered.”