The Long Island swimmer who was pulled out of the Atlantic Ocean after treading water for hours was reunited with the two fishing pals who helped save him.
Jim Hohorst, 63, and Michael Ross, 69, said on Wednesday they were out on their boat when they noticed a fishing pole with a shirt tied to it – and then discovered Dan Ho floating helplessly in the ocean.
“If it hadn’t been for that flag you were waving, we never would have spotted you,” Hohorst told Ho at the Bay Shore Marina. “It saved your life.”
Ho, 63, was completely “frozen,” suffering from hypothermia, and exhausted when the pair pulled him out of the ocean off Cedar Beach in Babylon on Monday.
The long-time pals had originally thought the shirt was a lobster flag but thought something was off. When they checked it out, they were surprised to find Ho barely alive in the water.
“We were just heading out. We were looking for [a] bunker for bait and that’s when I spotted the lobster flag waving back and forth but, something was wrong, it wasn’t moving like a lobster flag would move. And as we got closer we saw you,” Hohorst told Ho.
“Yeah, that was my shirt,” replied Ho, who was wearing the same shirt that saved his life. “I tied my shirt like this onto the end of the rod because there were boats going by and I was screaming, I was yelling to them, but they couldn’t hear me and the water was coming over my head. I mean there were boats that came closer than you guys and they couldn’t hear me.”
That’s when Ho luckily found the fishing rod that helped save him.
“So I figured I had to do something. So I took my shirt off and the rod – I saw it was like 20 feet away but it took me almost 20 minutes to get it – but finally I did and I tied my shirt to it.”
Ross said the two fishermen believed Ho had maybe 30 minutes left to live before he would have met a fateful end.
“We said another half hour, hour, that would have been it. You had no energy and you were frozen!”
Ho said he had “tried everything” and had floated onto his side, where he was “just swallowing water” and “vomiting the whole time.”
By the time Hohorst and Ross managed to pull Ho out of the water, he was “gray” and couldn’t stand up by himself. They pulled his soaking wet clothes off and wrapped him in blankets to warm him up as they waited for police, Ross told The Post.
“He was in rough shape,” Ross said. “We gave him some water because he was really, really dehydrated. And then we just started running then to meet the [police department].”
He was transferred to the Suffolk Police Department’s boat, the Marine Juliet, where he was treated for hypothermia and later transferred to the Good Samaritan University Hospital for treatment, where he spent the night.
The New York Post caught up with him outside of his house on Tuesday, where he was spotted wearing a blue hospital-issued outfit as he grinned for the camera after returning home.
He told The Post on Tuesday that he felt “healthy” and “strong.”
“I’m fine right now; hospital was very good,” he said. “I feel as strong as I normally am: recovered.
While at the reunion gathering on Wednesday, Ho also claimed to have threaded water for 13 hours. The Suffolk Police Department said in a statement on Monday that Ho had entered the water at 5 a.m. and was rescued around 10:30 a.m., but Ho changed his story midweek.
Ho claimed to Hohorst and Ross that he had actually entered the water around 9:30 p.m. the night before after the band at the Salt Shack stopped playing. While wadding in the water, the 63-year-old claims his knees buckled in the soft sand and he was swept out to sea.
“I’ll tell you the truth. It wasn’t 5 hours,’ he claimed to the two men. “The tide just took me out. It was more like 13 hours. That’s why I was so frozen. I tried so hard to stay alive. If you guys wouldn’t have come soon I don’t think I had much energy left.”
It is unclear how long Ho was actually stranded in the water.
Ross said the water was just under 70 degrees when they found Ho on Monday morning, meaning hypothermia would have set in as early as two to seven hours.
Swimmers can survive up to 40 hours in water temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees, according to Hofmann and Schweitzer Law Firm, which focuses on maritime accidents.
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