A Lithuanian man has survived an incredible 14 hours in the Pacific Ocean after falling off a cargo ship during a 3,500-mile supply run. The Silver Supporter's chief engineer, Vidam Perevertilov, felt dizzy after a night shift in the engine room as the ship traveled from Tauranga, New Zealand, to the remote Pitcairn Islands, and went out on deck to get some fresh air. It was 4am on Feb. 16. Perevertilov's son, Marat, who communicated with his father via message chat, tells Stuff that the 52-year-old may have fainted as he doesn't actually remember the plunge. He was not wearing a life jacket and was then some 400 nautical miles from the nearest land. He struggled to stay afloat until the sun came up, then made a last-ditch swim for a far-off black dot, which turned out to be an old unanchored fishing buoy.
The ship's crew realized the engineer was missing around 10am. They turned the ship around and headed for the location they'd been around 4am, when Perevertilov had last completed a work report. "What happened next was nearly inexplicable," says Marat: A crew member reported hearing "a weak, human shout on the starboard side of the ship" as the ship was running search patterns. For 10 minutes, nothing, then a lookout spotted a raised hand in the water. The BBC reports Perevertilov had shouted at the sight of his ship on the horizon around 6pm. "He looked about 20 years older and very tired but he was alive," clinging to "a piece of sea rubbish," Marat tells Stuff. He adds his father opted to leave the buoy behind "so it could save another person's life." (Read more survival stories.)