Rescued Divers Speak on 14 Hour Ordeal


For 18 year old Victoria Mudge and her father Tom, their diving trip to see the Red Sea tugboat wreck was an activity they'd never had issues with before, but Friday their dive in the Gulf took a turn for the worse.

"I sat outside and watched the sun go down and knew something was wrong," said Andrea Mudge.

Little did Andrea know that her husband and daughter were floating in the Gulf of Mexico waiting for relief after getting separated from their boat.

"I even took my BC off, my buoyancy compensator, and gave it to my friend and started swimming with just flippers, a mask, and a swimsuit as fast as I could, and...as I swam, you know, they were getting farther and farther away, but I wasn't getting any closer to the boat," said Tom Mudge.

After turning back, the Mudge family, accompanied by two other divers, decided to stay in place and wait for a rescue team to arrive - and after 14 hours in the Gulf, it did.

"We saw the light of the helicopter so we just took our flashlights and shined it at it," said Victoria Mudge, "sure enough it saw our flashlights and came over to us."

The helicopter crew spotted the divers 20 miles off Panama City and transported them to Tyndall Air Force Base for medical attention. Aside from fatigue and dehydration, none of the divers sustained serious injuries, but they did learn an important lesson.

"When Mack at Diver's Den said, you know, you need to have a safety observer on your boat all the time," said Tom, "if we had just listened to that one, then we wouldn't be talking to you right now."

The other family involved in the dive rescue has said they're incredibly grateful for all the work the US Coast Guard and other agencies did to ensure they were found.


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