Woman Clung On While Husband Slipped Into Delirium
SAN DIEGO (AP) _ During a 66-hour ordeal in stormy seas, Jan DeJulius clung to an overturned trimaran and watched, terrified, while her husband began sinking into delirium.
The two were plucked from the Pacific by a Coast Guard helicopter Wednesday morning after an emergency signal pinpointed their location.
″He just looked at me and said, ‘What’s your name?’ We’ve been married 11 years. I got real nervous,″ Mrs. DeJulius, 33, said Wednesday at a news conference.
Joe DeJulius, 43, was being treated for hypothermia at the University of California-San Diego Medical Center. He was listed in fair condition.
″Today, when I talked to him, he said he probably wouldn’t have lasted another nine hours,″ said Mrs. DeJulius. Her husband began to get delirious Tuesday night, she said.
The couple’s boat, a 40-foot three-hulled vessel named the Atlannta, was toppled Sunday by high waves generated by a severe winter storm that ravaged the Southern California coast. They were rescued 160 miles west-southwest of San Diego.
Meanwhile, Coast Guard officials said four people, including three Americans, aboard a fishing boat torn apart during the same storm were presumed dead and a search continued for two more vessels, with three people aboard, missing off Baja California.
An 86-foot netting vessel based in San Pedro, the Apache Brave, was listed as lost after its bow and an empty life raft were recovered about 20 miles west of Ensenada, Mexico, Coast Guard Lt. j.g. Andrew Czaposkyj said Wednesday. Names of the crew members were withheld pending notification of relatives.
Three people believed to be aboard two 35-foot fishing boats out of San Diego also are listed as missing, the Coast Guard said.
All three vessels last made radio contact on Monday after the fierce winter storm ravaged the Southern California coast with gale-force winds, rain and high surf.
″They were 25- to 30-foot waves. One of them came broadside and flipped the whole thing over,″ Mrs. DeJulius recalled.
The couple, whose water and supplies were in the boat’s primary hull but blocked from their reach, secured themselves to a crossbar and waited for help.
″I refused to give up,″ said Mrs. DeJulius, who said waves pounded their overturned boat the whole time.
She credited their full-body, rubberized survival suits with keeping them alive. However, her husband removed his suit at one point; it filled with water when he donned it again. Because of that, his body temperature plunged to 87 degrees, said Dr. Bill Baxt of the UC San Diego Medical Center.
Mrs. DeJulius, whose temperature was normal, suffered only abrasions on her face, from the tight-fitting survival suit’s zipper.
The Novato couple left the Mexican resort of Puerto Vallarta on Dec. 19 for their trip up the coast. Bad weather dogged them throughout the trip, she said.
The Coast Guard initially reported that the couple huddled in one hull for protection, but she said that was incorrect.
She and her husband, who have been sailing for 11 years, talked to keep their spirits up, focusing on ″family, friends, things we wanted to do that we hadn’t done yet.″
Mrs. DeJulius said she would be willing to sail again - on a cruise ship.