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Former Dolphins Player Falls Overboard, Swims 9 Miles to Shore
He was left treading water with nothing but the will to survive.

Posted Wednesday, January 14, 2015

 
Former Dolphins Player Falls Overboard, Swims 9 Miles to Shore
Rob Konrad, with his wife Tammy by his side, recounts his ordeal at sea in a press conference that aired on CNN and other news outlets.


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A routine boat trip from Boca Raton to Riviera Beach, FL turned life-threatening for Rob Konrad, 38, when he fell overboard while fishing in the Atlantic Ocean shortly after noon on January 7th.

The former Miami Dolphins player had picked up his boat from a marina in Boca Raton, FL. Heading into the Atlantic Ocean via Hillsboro Inlet, he planned to do some fishing on his way north to Riviera Beach.

Konrad estimates he was about nine miles offshore, pulling in a fish that he had hooked on an outrigger of his 31-foot Grady White, when a wave hit the boat, causing him to fall overboard. He was not wearing a life vest.

"Unfortunately, I ended up in a boater's nightmare," the former fullback said, in a press conference on Monday. The boat, running on autopilot at 5 mph, continued east towards the Bahamas.

"I didn't have a chance to give an SOS call," Konrad explained, "Simply because I was ejected from the boat so quickly. I did not have a personal flotation device on me, and there were no boats in sight."

Konrad realized quickly that he needed to start swimming towards shore to hopefully get near some vessels who might be able to rescue him. Swimming into the night, he saw a Coast Guard helicopter with a search light fly overhead, but it did not spot him. He also came as close as 50 yards from a fishing vessel, but despite his efforts to flag the boat, it too came and went.

He reported being stung by jellyfish, and at one point a shark circled him. After 16 hours in the ocean, alternating between the breast stroke and the backstroke, he eventually reached shore at approximately 4:30 am. Exhausted, dehydrated, and shivering, he crawled from the water at an oceanfront home. According to Konrad, a security guard contacted the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office and paramedics, who transported him to the hospital to be treated for hypothermia, dehydration, and rhabdomyolysis, the breakdown of muscle tissue.

According to a report on CNN.com, Konrad's athleticism and his training as a professional football player helped him endure the physical and mental trial. Even professional swimmers don’t attempt that many miles without help from a team providing hydration and nutrition, the CNN report goes on to explain.

"I have operated and owned boats my whole life, since I was a kid," the former full back said. Unfortunately, despite his boating experience, Konrad was not wearing a PFD. Konrad was also boating alone, which the US Coast Guard advises against. And, although he notified friends of his plans, and they notified Search and Rescue when he did not appear at the expected time, he was not spotted by Coast Guard rescuers.

It was nothing short of a miracle that he made it to shore.

Konrad's boat was later found washed ashore on Deadman's Reef near Grand Bahama Island. Because it is considered a boating accident, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating the incident. The investigation, however, is not expected to be completed for at least a month.

 
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