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Scuba diver lost off Queensland coast recounts terrifying 6-hour ordeal

"That's a wrap on old Jakey," Jacob Childs said in an eerie GoPro video on July 5, as he drifted alone in the ocean, roughly 30 nautical miles off the coast of Bundaberg, Queensland.

Childs, a PADI diving director, became stranded at sea after he lost his grip on an anchor line during a scuba dive and strong currents pulled him away from the diving boat.

"Basically, we went out for a fun dive, five of us and the boat captain. There was a moderate-strong current and probably an imperial 3- to 7-meter swell," Childs told AccuWeather.

"I was probably the first one into the water, so I was fighting the current and the swell for about 15 minutes more than everybody else."

Childs was descending down the anchor line, holding on with his left hand, when he noticed the person behind him on the rope had a problem. In order to get a better look, Childs attempted to swap to his right hand and missed the rope, becoming pulled alongside the boat.

At that point, the skipper had already pulled in the additional safety lines, so the six-year scuba veteran had nothing to grab onto.

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"I shouted to the skipper who'd seen me, who threw the line out, but it was too late," Childs said.

The current was estimated to be 4 to 5 knots, so he quickly drifted farther from the boat. By the time, the dive masters had gathered everyone else up, nearly half an hour had passed.

"...I was already gone," Childs recalled.

For the next several hours, he bobbed up and down in the water, waiting to be spotted by rescue crews. He listened to helicopters fly nearby, knowing they were not searching in his immediate vicinity.

Experienced enough to know he couldn't swim the distance to the coast, he listened to a nearby fishing trawler, analyzing its trawling pattern and trying to swim toward its next destination.

"I spent the last hour, maybe, trying to figure out what his pattern was and his directions, watching on the compass. I think I would have got in on his next circle down near me, but who knows," he said.

Childs spoke additional blunt, but hair-raising admissions into his camera: "So that's it. The sun goes down; they won't do nothing."

But, as the sky fell to darkness after six long hours adrift, Childs was spotted by a plane overhead, which summoned water police to his location.

"I got on the boat and I just wanted water and a cup of tea, which apparently is the memorable thing that went over the marine radio. They asked if I needed an ambulance, the marine rescue, and the police boat replied back, ‘No ambulance required, only a cup of tea.'"

"They were surprised as well that I was so calm and relaxed and in good spirits about the whole thing."

Now on dry land, the Queensland-based instructor is not deterred by the incident, which could have cost him his life.

"So I got rescued at 6 p.m. and I was back at work the next morning at 8 a.m. Straight back on the horse," Childs said.

"It's a rare case that things like this happen, but it's something I love doing. Something I always loved to do. I think it would take an awful lot to stop me from diving."


Have questions, comments, or a story to share? Email Jillian MacMath at jillian.macmath@accuweather.com or follow her on Twitter @Jillian_MacMath. Follow AccuWeather @breakingweather, or on Facebook.