Currently speaking about the rescue, a U.S. Coast Guard diver claims that the 28-year-old "had between a minute and 30 seconds left before we lost him completely." The man fell off the Carnival Valor cruise ship.
The person, who WWL identified as James Grimes, was found about 20 miles south of Southwest Pass, a channel that runs through Louisiana at the Mississippi River's mouth. He went missing on Wednesday night around 11 p.m. after leaving a bar to use the restroom; he was eventually discovered around 8:25 p.m. on Thanksgiving night.
"Mr. Grimes had nothing left. He had no energy. He had nothing left to give," said a U.S. Coast Guard aviation survival technician. "My best guess is that he had between a minute and 30 seconds left before we lost him completely."
After giving Grimes the rescue sling, Grimes "just collapsed into it," according to Hoefle.
While en route to Cozumel, Mexico, the cruise ship turned around to aid in the search before continuing.
Prior to receiving medical care at the New Orleans Lakefront Airport, Grimes was lifted out of the water and onto a helicopter.
Before learning that Grimes had been spotted by another ship, the four-person Coast Guard crew conducting the rescue was searching a region in the Gulf of Mexico the size of Rhode Island, according to WWL.
"It's hard to keep your mind in the right place, and then to throw that Hail Mary last couple of minutes of waving, swinging a sock around, anything to make himself more visible to us, that's survival," Hoefle said. "He just had an incredible will to survive. And he did whatever he had to do."