Trinidad: Diver swims 44 miles to safety after shark encounter

Christo­pher Bu­gros

(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.

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