Carnival overboard passenger: James Michael Grimes was determined to survive after falling off cruise ship

James Michael Grimes speaks for the first time in an exclusive interview abc news after falling overboard on a Carnival cruise ship after being missing for almost 20 hours.

The 28-year-old man said he was determined to make it out of the Gulf of Mexico alive and called it the experience of a lifetime.

Grimes said he stepped on water for almost 20 hours after falling overboard on Thanksgiving Eve – battling jellyfish, currents and shark-infested waters before he was released by the US Coast Guard just after 8pm on November 24 flown by the US Coast Guard, ABC News said.

Grimes had only been aboard the Carnival Valor a day when his sister reported him missing. The two were last seen together at a restaurant where Grimes had won an air guitar competition before heading to the bathroom.

That’s the last thing he remembers. Grimes said he believed the fall overboard knocked him unconscious.

“Next thing I know… I’ve regained consciousness. I was in the water with no boat in sight,” he said.

Alone in the depths of darkness and the light of the stars and moon, Grimes decided at that moment that he would make it out of the water.

“I felt like I was given a chance right in that moment…you live for a reason…this [fall] could have killed me, but from that moment on I felt like I was trying to stay positive. And you know, if you’re here, you’re still alive for a reason. So now all you have to do is swim and survive. I was hoping…they’ll start looking for me…they’ll eventually find me,” Grimes said.

Grimes was onboard the five-day cruise with 18 of his family members for Thanksgiving. When he failed to return to his cabin that night, his sister reported him missing.

The ship was en route to Cozumel, a Mexican island in the Caribbean, and was cleared by the Coast Guard to proceed to its destination after being rescued.

“Jayhawk flight crew lifted the man into the helicopter and took him to await emergency medical service at New Orleans Lakefront Airport,” the Coast Guard said in a statement.

“We are extremely grateful that this case ended in a positive outcome,” said Lt. Seth Gross, a search and rescue mission coordinator for the Coast Guard Sector New Orleans.

“We greatly appreciate the efforts of everyone, especially the U.S. Coast Guard and the sailor who spotted the guest in the water,” the Coast Guard said in a statement to ABC News on Thursday. “Cruise ships have safety barriers in all public areas governed by US Coast Guard standards that prevent a guest from falling off. Guests should never climb the railing safety barriers.”

Carnival Valor said in a statement to ABC News that it conducted a search and rescue operation after Grimes went missing.

“Carnival Valor has re-routed to aid in search and rescue, but the ship has now been cleared by the US Coast Guard and will continue on its way to Cozumel. Carnival’s care team is assisting the missing guest’s family members to sail with them and stay on board,” the statement said at the time.

Against all odds, Grimes said he’s kept a positive attitude and “just kept swimming.”

Along with his attitude, he said it was his desire to see his family again that kept him afloat.

“I wanted to see my family and was determined to get out of there. I never accepted that this will be the end of my life. I am 28 years old I’m young too. It’s not going to be that,” Grimes said.

“I always thought there was a higher purpose for my life. Now I know for sure that I am destined to do something on this earth. And, you know, I don’t know. It was just the Lord out there helping me, giving me strength and helping me stay afloat,” he added.

Copyright © 2022 ABC News Internet Ventures.

https://abc7.com/carnival-overboard-passenger-cruise-ship-man-james-michael-grimes-abc-news/12518369/ Carnival overboard passenger: James Michael Grimes was determined to survive after falling off cruise ship

Laura Coffey

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