Heather Barnes, a 20-year-old third year student at the New College of Florida, studying marine biology. On Friday before down, she went on a snorkeling trip alone in order to collect some coral samples. Little did she know that she will be stuck at sea for 16 hours off the coast of Honduras.



“I started cramping in my stomach and leg, and get pushed out by the currents way out. I try to stay in the same spot thinking people will search for me soon, but after two hours I still didn’t see anyone,” explained Heather on her Facebook page. The next day when she failed to turn up for breakfast at 7:30am in the morning, Sandra Gilchrist, her professor supervising the trip, said she felt that something was wrong. “I was furious with her when we realized she had gone out with herself.  She knows better. The search was immediately on,” stated Sandra.

At 7:50am, rescue boats were deployed and the local fishermen were alerted to keep a look out for Heather. Apparently, she had only gone into the water with just a snorkeling mask and a wetsuit. By midday, the rescue effort expanded to include about 100 people. After a shoreline search concluded with nothing, Sandra and her fellow students feared the worst had happened to Heather. “The wind was blowing to the point where there were swells so strong, we wouldn’t have been able to have seen her even if we were 30 feet away, unless we were on a crest,” explained Sandra.

At that point of time, Heather had been treading water for a couple of hours elsewhere and had not seen anyone. “I realize if I’m going to make it I have to swim back myself,” she stated. That was exactly what she did as she began swimming towards a light she saw on shore, even when night approached. According to Sandra, Heather eventually reached the shore after hours of swimming. The locals gave her water and brought her back to where she was staying. “My first reaction was I thought they were bringing back her body, because it was so long and it was dark.  Then, one of my students came out and said, ‘She’s alive!  She’s alive!’ Everyone broke out in tears and grabbed her,” recounted Sandra. For the rest of the story, you can refer here.

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