Battling heat, fatigue, and jellyfish, a marine biology student studying in Honduras spent 16 hours stranded in the middle of the ocean Friday.
“I feel like I cheated death or cheated the ocean out of something,” New College of Florida student Heather Barnes told ABC.
When she couldn’t fall asleep, Barnes went into the ocean at 4 a.m. Friday morning to collect coral samples. Once in the water, she began to experience cramps and the tide swept her out into the middle of the ocean.
Barnes quickly realised that she was in trouble. “I tried to stay in the same spot, thinking people would search for me soon … But after two hours I still didn’t see anyone. I realised if I was going to make it, I had to swim back myself,” she told NBC.
According to NBC, even though Barnes was “exhausted, sunburned and suffering from dehydration and jellyfish stings” she began to swim towards land.
Eight hours after Barnes went missing, the program notified her mother, Jennifer Dukelow, that she was missing. NBC reports that Dukelow quickly sprung her New Jersey community into action, reaching out to anyone that could possibly help.
Eventually, Dukelow told NBC, Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Vern Buchanan were pressuring the Honduran government to do all they could to find Barnes.
However, Barnes made the trip back to land on her own. After 16 hours in the water, “I made it to Lion’s Head on our island and collapsed on the shore … Two locals carried me and gave me water. They kayaked me back to the resort where people poured from every building and hugged and kissed me,” Barnes told NBC.
Barnes is currently back in the United States, healing from a severe sunburn and some jellyfish stings. She told NBC that she is “ready to take a break from the beach for a while.”
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.