Boating survivor recalls tragedy 1 year later - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Boating survivor recalls tragedy 1 year later

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. -- It was exactly a year ago, when a Port St. Lucie man watched three of his family members drown in the ocean.

He was left clinging onto the side of their capsized boat with all his strength for hours.

Now, Robert Stewart is counting his blessings to be alive and sharing that appreciation with those who helped him survive.

Monday, Stewart visited the doctors, nurses and hospital staff at Martin Medical Center to thank them for helping him recover.

“Just to show them some appreciation because what we do in life sometimes is thankless,” Stewart said.

By the time he was rescued, Stewart said he had been in the water more than 20 hours. He suffered a heart attack from the stress he put his body through. He ruptured two disks in his back, he says, on top of other conditions like Hypothermia.

Stewart still has mixed emotions thinking about the tragedy.

“You know, thankful, remorseful, sad, happy,” Stewart said. “I think about them all the time. All the time.”

His cousin, Fernandez Jones, Jones’ 9-year-old son Jaden, and Jones’ Stepfather Willis Bell, lost their lives after losing their grip to relentless, beating waves.

“I literally was touching all of them as the took their last breath.”

Jaden was the last person Stewart tried to save.

“That was the toughest part, for me. Definitely the toughest part,” Stewart said.

He says his own family on land, and God, helped him fight long enough to be found.

“It was just me and God. It’s like he was saying do this,” Stewart explained.

The rest of the credit he gives to the crews who rescued him, and his medical team.

To this day, he says he is still not exactly sure what caused the boat to leak and take on water.

He is also thinking of putting his story on paper someday, hoping it can be an inspiration to other people.

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