WASHINGTON (AP) — The lone survivor of a fishing boat lost near Assateague Island said the biggest wave he had ever seen destroyed the ship in seconds.
"When it caught us that was it. It was over, 15 seconds the boat was in pieces," said Patrick Small of New Bern, N.C.
The search was called off Thursday for two other crew members, 80-year-old Walter Tate and his nephew, Steven Tate, both of New Bern, N.C. The 67-foot Seafarer issued a distress call about 15 miles off the coast of Assateague Island on Wednesday as a winter storm lashed the coast.
Small told WUSA (http://on.wusa9.com/12xtfya) the ship had lost its rudder and was being towed when a wave snapped the tow line.
"The wave crested, and came down and smashed our side and started filling up with water. The water had me pinned to the roof, a second later the pressure just ripped the roof off, and crumbled the cabin, and washed me on out into the back," Small said.
Small, who suffered a gash to the head and bruised ribs, said he spent 90 minutes in the water before managing to get into a lifeboat, where he spent another hour before being rescued by helicopter. Small was taken to Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury where he was treated for hypothermia and injuries.
"The nurse told me I shouldn't have lasted 45 minutes in that water," Small said.