A fisherman in Kauai, Hawaii, was nearly dragged into the sea on Friday when a 230-pound ahi tuna snagged on his fishing line and capsized his boat.
Anthony Wichman was fishing about 14 miles off the coast of Kauai when he encountered 230-pound tuna, CNN reports. The tuna was reportedly so powerful that it capsized Wichman’s boat, knocking the 54-year-old into the Pacific Ocean and dragging him underwater.
“In his mind, he thought he was dying, that he was gone,” his daughter, Anuhea Wichman, told local CNN affiliate KHON. “But he thought about his family, thought about his first grandson, which is my son. That was his motivation. He had to survive.”
The local Coast Guard said Friday that it managed to locate Wichman by locking onto his cell phone signal, CNN reports. At the time of his rescue, the 54-year-old was located about 10 miles southwest of Port Allen, Kauai.
According to his daughter, Wichman initially managed to catch the massive fish after an hour-long battle, dragging the 230-pound tuna into his 14-foot boat, KHON reports. "He gaffed it once in the back, and the second gaffe went straight into the fish's eye, and that caused the fish to take a final dive,” Anuhea Wichman told KHON. “And he dove straight down, and the line wrapped around my dad's ankle and pulled him overboard.”
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Despite the fact that his boat had capsized, Wichman managed to use his cell phone to call his daughter before he was lost at sea for good. “All I could hear was him hyperventilating, and I could hear him puking,” Anuhea Wichman told KHON. Still, Wichman managed to say “sinking” and “Coast Guard” loud enough for his daughter to hear.
Soon after, the Coast Guard contacted the elder Wichman by phone and coordinated with 911 operators to ascertain his location, CNN reports. Rescue divers managed to pull the nearly drowned man onto a waiting helicopter.
He was reportedly recovering from rope burn and a few bruises on Saturday, KOHN reports.