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Survivor of Capsized Fishing Boat Says ‘Voices’ Kept Him Going

April 18, 1990 GMT

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) _ A commerical fisherman whose boat capsized said Wednesday he frequently heard voices and prayed a lot during the five days he spent floating in a wooden box without food.

Nathan Neesmith, 32, of Darien, told reporters he didn’t know why the 34- foot boat Casie Nicole sank early Thursday.

″All I know is water came in, and it came in fast,″ said Neesmith, still appearing fatigued on his third day of hospitalization.

Neesmith said that as he drifted in the Atlantic, he splashed water on his face and tried to avoid drinking the salt water. He felt at times he would not survive.

″I heard people talking to me,″ Neesmith said. ″I drifted along. I heard people yelling out, ‘Nathan 3/8’ I’d jump up and look around. I thought it was somebody. Here I am looking around, and it was only the good Lord keeping me awake.″

Earlier Wednesday, the Coast Guard said it suspended its search for three missing crew members, including Neesmith’s brother and nephew.

Neesmith was rescued Monday about 20 miles east of Hilton Head Island, S.C.

He was in fair condition Wednesday at Memorial Medical Center in Savannah, where he was being treated for hypothermia and dehydration. Dr. Carl Boyd, director of the trauma center, said he expected Neesmith to make a full recovery and to be released this weekend.

The boat was found Monday night by a Coast Guard plane about 45 miles off the coast, said Petty Officer 2nd Class Brett Farrell.

A subsequent search turned up only a life vest and a sleeping bag, about five miles from where Neesmith was rescued, said Petty Officer 2nd Class Anthony Brown of the Coast Guard rescue station on Tybee Island.

Neesmith said he and his companions were about 65 miles offshore when the boat began taking on water. He left the others with food and a raft, and set out to get help.

He said he was confident the others will be found.

″People are praying for us all over the world, and if they can be found we’re gonna find them ... we’re sure gonna try anyway,″ Neesmith said.

The Coast Guard said the search was suspended pending any new developments.

Missing were Neesmith’s brother, Billy Joe Neesmith, 23; his nephew, Keith Wilkes, 18; and Franklin Brantley, 23, all of Darien.