BELLE CHASSE, LA (WVUE) - Four Biloxi-based fishermen say they're lucky to be alive, after their boat capsized in the Gulf of Mexico, 40 miles off shore.
"Mother, I'm alive, that's good enough for now," fisherman Tom Mallett said Tuesday afternoon.
Mallett is here thanks to his quick thinking.
He explains, "We did everything right, all we could do but we couldn't save the boat, we were lucky to save our life."
It took only a matter of seconds for Mallett's 28-foot boat to sink in the Gulf after taking on water during a bad storm.
Mallet says, "I'm 56 years old and everybody's got to die and I was ready but I wasn't about to see that kid die."
The fisherman and his friends, including a 15-year-old, were fishing about 40 miles off the coast of Venice, near an oil rig.
"Having the rig right there was absolutely crucial for them," said Coast Guard Lt. Brandt Allen.
As the boat took on water, Mallett steered his vessel toward the rig.
Mallett explains, "Got it to the rig and crashed it into the rig. They was all on the bow and jumped off and then they got me off."
Without time to retrieve life jackets, Mallett could only reach for one thing to save, his cell phone, which he used to capture the moment.
Next, he called the Coast Guard. And then the men waited, for hours, for help to arrive.
Coast Guard rescue swimmer Scott Garren says, "Tough guys you know, they were out there for who knows how long,"
The Coast Guard says this story could've had a much different outcome. "People don't realize that you can still get hypothermia even here in the Gulf after many hours of exposure," Lt. Allen explained.
If it weren't for a man with years of experience on the water, who knew how to save his life and others.
The four men were flown to the naval air station in Belle Chasse to be checked out. None of them required medical attention. And Tom Mallett says despite this harrowing experience, and losing his boat, it won't keep him from fishing again.