By Abbey Niezgoda
It is an incredible story of survival in the waters off Point Judith. Joseph Gross, 51, of Westerly fell overboard while fishing near Block Island. By the time rescuers found him, he had been treading water for 9 hours.
His boat was found Tuesday night aground in South Kingstown. As word spread, friends began to worry.
"He was probably just tipping out of the boat to get some air and slipped and fell," Ziggy Pietrowski said.
Pietrowski is best friends with Gross. He says as the hours wore on and the search continued, his hope was sinking.
"I really thought I would be bringing flowers to the ocean today," Pietrowski said.
However, Gross was still afloat, trying to keep his head above water for hours.
"We heard him yelling," Andrew Uptagrafft of the U.S. Coast Guard said. "We looked in that direction and saw him in the water. He was treading water and he didn't have a life jacket on."
Gross told his friends that after awhile, he started hallucinating that there was a buoy in front of him. He was transported to the hospital, but is expected to make a full recovery.
"It's a miracle! I wouldn't be able to do that," Pietrowski said. "I'm going to give him a hug and tell him it's good to have him around. He has to be more careful though. He can't go alone."