(Trinidad Guardian) A diver lost at sea was able to swim approximately 44 miles, battling strong currents in the Atlantic Ocean, before making it ashore in Toco on Thursday.
Christopher Bugros, 24, became separated from his group as a 350-pound bull shark swept past them about 9 am on Wednesday.
Bugros is now suffering from extreme exhaustion and dehydration and was receiving medical treatment at the Sangre Grande District Hospital. He spent almost 16 hours in the ocean.
By 6 pm he had already been administered four bags of IV drips, relatives said.
Bugros was part of a group of four divers who left their respective homes on Wednesday to go diving off Toco.
At about 9 am while he and two other divers were in the deep waters a 350-pound bull shark waded pass them. The trio tried to escape. Two of them managed to surface, however, Bugros got into difficulty and was swept away about 100 feet away from the boat by strong undercurrents, according to his uncle Ricardo.
He said his nephew told his best friend and brother, Antonio Rodriguez that as he was drifting he finally surfaced and realised he was far off from his friends and dive boat.
“Christopher said he tried contacting them via his communication device but said that they weren’t hearing him neither seeing him. He said he looked at them as they searched the waters for him. He also saw when they even left the area and returned shortly after noon to search again…several minutes after they left the area and he just watched them leave, “ Ricardo said.
“That’s when his survival instinct kicked in and he began to put in practice what his father taught him should a situation like this happen while out in the ocean…he began to cut his clothes and get rid of whatever to help float with the tank but then he was forced to get rid of the tank as it grew heavy and he grew very tired… He had to survive for a purpose no doubt,” Ricardo added.
He said at about midnight his nephew looked at the navigator on his watch and noticed that he was 44 miles off the coast. He added that it was a very small beam of light coming from a mountain and he used that as his only guide as he fought against strong currents.
About 3 am, Bugros swam up ashore but because of complete exhaustion and dehydration, he could not move until daybreak.
He eventually made his way to the direction of where he saw that light got to a house where he alerted the occupants.
He was given a hot drink and a phone call.
“It was a very traumatic time that we went through but when he got the news that he’s alive his dad fell on his knees and thanked God and cried uncontrollably,” Ricardo said.
Burgos elder sister, Maria, 26, also thanked God for protecting her brother. She said on hearing the news of her brother’s disappearance it brought back tragic memories when her mother, Veronica Thomas, was killed by a young driver while attempting to cross a major intersection in Port of Spain, some 14 years ago.
“We were in a mess…in panic…confused but we never thought of death because we know Christopher to be a survivor, a fighter, we know him to apply his brains in times of trouble and we know him to be a very smart young man. We are very happy to have him alive and with us to tell his story,” Maria said.
Bugros’ family and close friends, however, expressed disappointment about the medical attention given to Bugros at the Toco Health Centre where they reportedly had no IV and instead administered antibiotics to him and discharged him.
Bugros collapsed shortly after he was discharged and was taken to another health centre before the Sangre Grande Hospital.
The Bugros family also expressed disappointment in the lack of air support by the T&T Coast Guard in searching for him.