FLAGLER BEACH, Fla. – In an exclusive interview with Local 6 News, 45-year-old Donnie Clark of Port Orange shared his story about surviving the day he got knocked out of his boat into the ocean, about 25 miles away from Flagler Pier.
"It's taken two months tomorrow since I can even think about going on a boat or even talk about this," Clark said.
Still too shy to go on camera, Clark only felt comfortable showing pictures to tell his story. On May 17, Clark and his friends were on his boat returning from a fishing trip when waves knocked him off a bean bag.
"(I) hit the water, lost my hat, my glasses. Seemed like it took forever to come up," Clark said.
Clark said his boat was already gone, but he knew his friends would eventually return.
"(I've) just got to make for 15 minutes and they'll be back," he said.
His boat circled back but couldn't find him. That's when a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter joined in the search.
"(The) helicopter went by 12 to 14, 15 times, and went directly over me twice. I took my T-shirt off, a white T-shirt, and waved it," Clark said.
But Clark said despite the helicopter and a drone, no one could see him, so he curled into a ball to stay afloat and thought about family and his faith.
"If this is the way I'm supposed to go, then I've had a great life, it is what it is. But I just kept telling myself, 'They're going to be here, they're going to be here.'"
Six hours later, the Coast Guard finally found him.
"I remember grabbing onto the life jacket saying, 'It's over,'" he said.
Miraculously, Clark only suffered minor injuries and dehydration.
Clark said when he asked the Coast Guard what his odds were of surviving, they told him he had a better chance of winning the Powerball two weeks in a row.
"I believe God was smiling on me that day," Clark said.