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Florida kayaker, stranded for hours in the water, is dramatically rescued by a fellow boater

All that Davey Wright of Port St. Lucie, Florida, wanted was to take his kayak out to do some fishing and clear his head.  

The retired Airborne Ranger never expected that a simple fishing trip would turn into a desperate fight for his life. 

But thanks to his military training and the help of another boater, Wright is today able to share his harrowing story and dramatic water rescue.     

Wright set off in his kayak on June 27 from Fort Pierce to catch some fish

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Things were going well, he told Fox News Digital in a phone interview, and he ‘caught a lot of fish.’ 

After stopping for a break — and with the sun setting — he decided to head back home across a ‘super-wide stretch of the Intracoastal Waterway.’ 

But about an hour into his trek, the kayak started taking in water. Within minutes, he was treading water. 

‘I’ve been taking care of my father with dementia and things just got a little tough, so I decided to set out on a kayak trip,’ Wright said in a phone interview this week. 

‘Packed up the kayak with my fishing rods, cooler, fishing net and set off from Fort Pierce,’ he said. ‘Everything was going good, caught a lot of fish. I had stopped on an island to rest and had let some kids nearby play on the kayak.’

‘The kayak starts getting heavy, and within minutes I am sitting in water. It just sunk like a rock.’

He added, ‘I don’t know if it got damaged at that point. But it was getting late — so I decided to head back home.’

Wright said he knew he had ‘about a three-and-a-half-hour paddle back. So now it is pitch black out — I had no lights on the kayak. About an hour into the trek back, the kayak starts getting heavy, and within minutes I am sitting in water. It just sunk like a rock.’  

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Wright said, ‘I had all my high-dollar gear floating around me. I spent like an hour treading water, and I was running out of energy. I was getting cold. I didn’t know where I was.’

Wright said he ‘started letting go of my worldly possessions. The net went first until I had absolutely nothing, so I could keep myself above water.’

‘I couldn’t make out anything except boat lights,’ said Wright.

‘I’d yell, but it was hard to tell how close they [the boat lights] were. There were times when I thought I could swim. But there was [shark] feeding going on all around me, and I was not sure if I could get to land.’ 

Wright told Fox News Digital, ‘That’s why I decided to stay in the depth and head for the lights. It was getting to the point where my muscles [were] so fatigued. I started making peace with the idea that this is where I would die. This is where it would be.’

‘I remember asking [God], ‘Where are you?”

Speaking further about his faith, Wright said, ‘When I originally set out there, it was to pray and talk to God because things in life were just feeling harder. I remember asking him, ‘Where are you?”

Wright said he had not been wearing a life vest that night ‘because kayaks don’t sink. Well, they shouldn’t sink. It was those last two hours [that] I was using my jacket as a flotation device.’

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He said that at that point, ‘I just wanted to close my eyes and go to sleep. I felt delirious, semi-hypothermic.’

He said he finally saw ‘another bow light. So I used what energy I had [left] to scream as hard as I could, like I had been.’

‘This time,’ he added, ‘I see a spotlight come on, pointing in front of the boat like it was looking for me. I used a couple more screams to give him directions.’ He said he was almost out of breath by then.  

Wright said a man ‘finally spots me and calls out. Now I start thinking I have a chance.’

‘It took about 15 to 20 minutes until we could get lined up and he could throw me a lifeline.’

Said Wright, ‘Between the current and the wind, it took about 15 to 20 minutes until we could get lined up and he could throw me a lifeline.’ 

‘I eventually pulled myself onto the boat,’ he said — and ‘that’s when’ the other man ‘started videotaping and asking what happened. He told me later he did that for his own safety — which I totally understood.’  

Thomas Korinek, a boat captain from West Palm Beach, was perhaps the right guy at the right time in the right place. 

‘I was at Cocoa Beach and got going about 7 p.m., [with] a later start back to West Palm Beach. I left the dock and I was just sitting up on the upper helm around 4 a.m. when I heard someone yelling, ‘Mayday!’’

Korinek added, ‘At first I thought it was over the radio, so I turned the radio down — and then I heard it again. I thought maybe someone had broken down.’

‘He was not waving — he was just floating there. I got up next to him and grabbed the life sling and threw it to him.’

‘I got the spotlight,’ he said, ‘and started panning around the water. And I saw this man in a brown puffy jacket in the water with his hands in the air.’

Korinek continued, ‘I yelled, ‘I’m coming,’ and turned and went to look for him. I was yelling but didn’t hear anything and the current was just ripping.’  

‘Then I spotted him again,’ said Korinek, ‘but he was not waving — he was just floating there. I got up next to him and grabbed the life sling and threw it to him.’

‘The whole time I was thinking, I don’t know who he is and why he is in the water.’

Korinek said he ‘got the life sling around [Wright] and began pulling — and it was just like pulling in a dead fish … [I] got him to the swim platform,’ he added.  

‘The whole time I was thinking, I don’t know who he is and why he is in the water. So I’m thinking the worst-case scenario — and that’s why I grabbed my phone, so I’d have video of who he is and [could] ask him what he was doing.’

Korinek said, ‘He told me his kayak went down.’

Before long, Tom Korinek pulled his boat into the marina at Fort Pierce, he said, ‘and he jumped off the bow. We introduced ourselves — and I posted the video on my TikTok the next morning,’ added Korinek.  

‘And I started getting messages from all these people who said they knew him.’

But that wouldn’t be the last time the two men saw each other. They each described to Fox News Digital what happened next.

‘Once we got back to Fort Pierce, I gave him a hug. We said we’d find each other again at some point.’

‘Shortly after I posted the video,’ said Korinek, ‘I got a call from Davey. We met and we just hung out for an entire day and night. We were just reminiscing about the events leading up to how it happened.’

Korinek explained that if his boat ‘hadn’t been broken down, I wouldn’t have been there. I’ve been stranded before.’

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He said he and Davey Wright ‘had the idea of starting a business together, where we teach people what to do if you get stranded or caught in bad situations.’ 

Korinek’s vessel, by the way, is named ‘Back in a Minute,’ he said.

Wright, for his part, told Fox News Digital, ‘Once we got back to Fort Pierce, I gave him a hug. We said we’d find each other again at some point and I jumped off the bow.’ 

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‘From there,’ said Wright, ‘I still had to try to get home because I didn’t have my wallet, car keys or anything with me.’ It took him about a full day ‘to finally get back to my car.’

Wright arranged for a tow truck, ‘and the driver casually asked me what happened because it was a newer truck and I didn’t have my keys,’ he said. 

‘I absolutely feel the magnitude of training I had is probably the sole reason I survived.’

‘So I told him — and he asked if I was the same guy from the video on TikTok.’ 

‘I didn’t think I was at first,’ said Wright, ‘because I am not on social media. But my friend had commented to Tom, saying he knew me — and Tom responded that he wanted to meet me.’ 

That’s how the two men ‘set up a time to meet and just struck up a friendship,’ said Wright. 

The kayaker also told Fox News Digital, ‘I was an Airborne Ranger during [Operation] Iraqi Freedom — and I absolutely feel the magnitude of training I had is probably the sole reason I survived.’

Added Wright, ‘If you put your heart and mind to it, you can push through it.’ 

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