A man that fell overboard in the Pacific Ocean managed to survive for 14 hours until he was found by rescuers clinging to a "piece of sea rubbish."
Vidam Perevertilov reportedly fell off a cargo ship into the ocean. His crewmates reportedly did not notice that he was gone and the ship had continued to sail for several hours. The 52-year-old sailor fell into the ocean without a life jacket on.
His son told reporters that Perevertilov managed to survive the incident after he decided to swim towards a "black dot" he saw on the horizon. The dot, which was several kilometers away, turned out to be ocean debris that included a discarded fishing buoy. Perevertilov held onto the floating clump of trash until he was rescued.
"He looked about 20 years older and very tired but he was alive," his son told reporters.
Perevertilov was working as the Lithuanian chief engineer of the cargo ship, Silver Supporter. The vessel was making a supply run between the isolated British territory of Pitcairn and New Zealand's Tauranga port.
Perevertilov told his son that he did not remember falling overboard. He told him that he only remembers going out into the deck to recover after he felt "hot and dizzy" after a shift in the engine room. His son said that he believes that his father may have fainted before he fell overboard.
Perevertilov struggled to stay afloat for several hours. He reportedly then saw a black speck on the horizon and decided to swim towards it.
"It was not anchored to anything or a boat, it was just a piece of sea rubbish," his son told reporters.
The crew of the Silver Supporter reportedly only noticed his absence six hours after he fell overboard. The captain of the ship then decided to turn the ship around to look for the missing crewman.
The ship's crew estimated Perevertilov's approximate location by looking at his work logs. They also radioed other ships into the area to look out for their missing chief engineer. A French navy aircraft had also joined the search. He was later found about 400 miles south of French Polynesia's Austral Island after France's meteorological service calculated his possible whereabouts based on the recorded wind and drift patterns.
"His will to survive was strong... I probably would have drowned straight away, but he always kept himself fit and healthy and that's why I think he could survive," his son said.