From ‘the depths of hell’ to joy: Family of St. Augustine boater rescued 12 miles offshore happy to have son home

The parents of a local boater who survived for over 30 hours in the ocean are overjoyed to have their son home after not being sure if they would ever see him again.

“We truly do feel blessed and I truly believe that Charlie has a greater purpose on earth moving forward,” his family said.

Charles Gregory’s parents said Tuesday they could not have been more worried for their son, but they were relieved to learn he had been rescued Saturday morning after clinging to his tiny Jon boat 12 miles offshore from St. Augustine.

His parents said Gregory goes out in the water every day, but what started out as a normal day turned into uncertainty and fear which caused them to prepare themselves for the worst.

RELATED: St. Augustine man who survived nearly two days lost at sea now on the road to recovery

Seconds turned into minutes, minutes turned into hours as the Gregory family, mother Debra and father Raymond Gregory, waited for their son to be rescued.

“He’s not answering his phone. He said we’ll get on with T Mobile, find his last location and call the Coast Guard. And so I was sufficiently panicked at that point,” his family said.

That’s when the U.S. Coast Guard along with first responders and people in the community began their search.

From looking near his favorite hangout spots, down to the shorelines, Gregory was nowhere in sight.

“By 11, 12 o’clock were getting updates from the Coast Guard and at that point he’s telling us you know, the tide is sufficient if he was, you know, we need to explore other possibilities, other theories about what happened,” Debra Gregory said.

Feeling distraught with no answers or sign of Gregory they did not lose hope. The next morning the Coast Guard sent out a military aircraft to continue the search.

A few hours later, Debra received a phone call from a friend telling her Gregory was alive.

“I was, we were screaming. I followed his father immediately. It’s just from the depths of hell to the most intense, joyous feeling and it’s in a split second,” Debra said.

Debra and Raymond then rushed to the pier.

When they saw their son he was severely dehydrated, sunburned and had several bruises.

“He’s got jellyfish stings, jellyfish bites. You can see on the back of his leg it must be a very large bruise. He’s got bruises on the back of his body,” his parents said.

Gregory was taken to the hospital and returned home.

The Gregory family said their son is recovering and are thankful for everyone who helped in the search.

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