NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — For the first time, News 8 is learning more about the rescue of a Middletown man lost at sea from the perspective of the freighter crew who saved him.
On September 25th, a crew member of the Orient Lucky spotted something orange bobbing in the open seas 100 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard.
“One of his crew spotted this guy in the life raft yelling and waving his arms,” said Tom O’Reilly, the Port Agent who works with the Orient Lucky.
O’Reilly is based out of the Port of St. John in New Brunswick, Canada where the Orient Lucky is currently docked. He spoke with News 8 on behalf of the Chinese Captain, Zhao Hengdong, and his crew.
O’Reilly says a closer look revealed the man in the life raft was Nathan Carman of Middletown. The crew raced to help Carman. The rescue was tricky in seas with 10-foot swells. The first attempt to lower a life boat to Carman proved to difficult and dangerous in the conditions. They next tried throwing a life ring to Carman. He caught it on the third try. Then, the crew towed him in.
In video provided to News 8 of the rescue, excited shouts from the Chinese crew can be heard. Carman is pulled onto the gangway. He appeared shaky after surviving 8 days in open seas in a life raft.
“He had a little trouble walking up the gang way,” said O’Reilly. “They had to, just kind of, steady him.”
The crew, concerned about hypothermia, wrapped Carman in a warm blanket then fed him. O’Reilly says Carman rested the first day and came out to talk to the crew on the second day.
The 22-year-old from Middletown and his mother, Linda, had set out on a fishing trip a week before and never returned.
Nathan appears to be the sole survivor, after he says, their fishing boat sunk. O’Reilly says Captain Hengdong spoke at length about his conversations with Carman.
“He (the captain) said Carman told them that he had been out with his mother,” said O’Reilly. “The boat developed some problems. It took on water and sunk…He didn’t see his mother after that.”
Carman’s mother, Linda, is now presumed dead. Police searched Nathan’s Vermont home looking to see if his repairs had made the boat unsafe. The Captain’s impression?
“The captain just said it appeared to him that he was quite sad that he had lost his mother,” said O’Reilly.