Monday, January 12, 2015

Rob Konrad's Amazing Survival Story

Rob Konrad: Ex-Dolphin Recounts 16 Hour Swim Survival, 'I Shouldn't Be Here'

Rob Konrad After Ocean Ordeal: 'I Shouldn't Be Here'

ob Konrad walked stiffly into the room Monday morning, gingerly walked up two stairs with the help of his wife and fought back tears for the next half-hour as he related surviving an ocean ordeal after falling off his recreational boat nearly nine miles offshore.

 “I shouldn’t be here,’’ he said.

Sixteen hours in the water. Twenty-seven miles from where he fell to where he washed ashore. Jellyfish stings. A circling shark. And two near-misses at being rescued.

“I’m grateful and thankful to be here,” he said during a news conference in Plantation.

Last Thursday morning, the former Miami Dolphins fullback was taking his 36-foot boat from Lighthouse Point to Riviera Beach for service. Along the way, he put the boat on autopilot and began to troll. A big fish hit a line. As he moved the rod, a huge wave hit the boat, knocking him overboard.

“At that point in time, after panicking, I realized I was in real trouble,’’ he said. “I was miles out, the boat was on autopilot heading east to the Bahamas, I didn’t have time to get out an SOS call. I knew I was in trouble.”

An avid boater since his youth in New England, Konrad figured he had two or three hours before hypothermia or cramps set in. He decided to start swimming west toward land in hopes of running into another boat.

“In the next 16 hours, I realy had two opportunities for rescue,’’ he said. “At one point, as I swam into the night, there was a fishing boat, a recreational fishing boat, about 50 yards away. I tried to flag down the boat. It didn’t work out.

“A little bit later on, I saw the Coast Guard (helicopter). They were out, searching the water. At that point in time, came right over the top of me. They had lights on me, but kept going. That was a difficult time.

“I realized at that point I was on my own.”

Konrad, 38, said he prayed for help, thought of his family with wife, Tammy, and two daughters, eight and 10.

“After some time I just said, ‘Look, I’m not dying tonight, I’m going to make it to shore,' " he said. “It certainly tests your mind when you're in the water that long.

There were moments he wasn’t sure he would make it. He thought it was around midnight and not 4:30 a.m. when he came ashore by a Palm Beach home. Even then, he couldn’t walk up. He had to curl up and warm his body so it could move to the house and get help.

Konrad spent from Friday morning until Sunday in the hospital, where he was treated for hypothermia and severe dehydration.

”Unfortunately, I ended up in a boater’s nightmare and was lucky enough to sruvive,’’ he said.

“It was a miracle that he made it home," his wife, Tammy Konrad, told reporters. “It was beyond terrifying." — Dave Hyde | Sun-Sentinel

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