Man Survives 18 Hours in Sea Thanks to Lost Toy

Half-inflated ball kept North Macedonia man afloat in Aegean Sea
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 15, 2022 6:19 AM CDT
Man Survives 18 Hours in Sea Thanks to Lost Toy
The man named Ivan, center, is shown at a hospital following his rescue.   (Mayor of Kassandra Anastasia Chalkia)

A North Macedonia man who was swept out to sea off the Greek island of Kassandra managed to survive for 18 hours by clinging to a small inflatable ball that happened to float toward him. The vacationer identified only as Ivan and a friend were declared missing at sea after a powerful current took them from Myti Beach on Saturday, per WNYW and Global News. Eighteen hours later, a Greek Coast Guard helicopter spotted the 30-year-old Ivan and pulled him to safety. He told his rescuers that he'd clung to a colorful toy soccer ball that came toward him. The ball is shown in photos shared by Kassandra Mayor Anastasia Chalkia, who visited with Ivan and his father in the hospital following the rescue.

A woman has since come forward to say her two sons lost the ball to ocean tides at a beach on the island of Lemnos, about 80 miles from Myti Beach, on June 30, 10 days before Ivan was swept away. He described it as half-inflated, but in good enough condition to help him stay afloat, per Metro. He's now appealing for donations to aid the search for his friend, who remains missing. Martin Jovanovski reportedly jumped into the ocean in an attempt to save Ivan and another friend named Vasil, who turned up safely "after a few hours," reports Serbian news site Telegraf. Jovanovski's brother is expected to join his mother in Kassandra on Friday and has vowed to "move the earth and heaven" and "mobilize everything necessary" to find the missing man, per Telegraf. (Read more rescue stories.)

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