‘A great miracle’- Israeli grandfather, 75, survives 12 hours overnight in the sea

“Everything’s fine,” says local grandfather who survived overnight ordeal in the open sea by clinging to buoy, while downplaying the seriousness of the incident.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

A 75-year-old Israeli grandfather was discovered in good condition by a maritime search and rescue team on Wednesday morning, some 12 hours after being pulled away from the shore by a strong tide.

Dr. Michael Nofa, a physics professor and resident of the Haifa suburb of Kiryat Yam, arrived at the beach at around 7 p.m. on Tuesday for his evening swim in the Mediterranean Sea.

But after he failed to return home by 10 p.m., his family alerted authorities, fearing the worst had happened. Nofa’s son, Lev, scanned the area of beach where his father usually swam, and discovered his clothes, backpack, and shoes sitting in the sand.

“When I saw [his things] I panicked, I understood that it meant that my father was still in the water,” Lev Nofa told Ynet. “For years, I have been afraid that my father would go into the sea and not come out, and [I thought to myself] unfortunately, this moment has come.”

A helicopter, police units and a maritime search-and-rescue searched for Nofa overnight, to no avail.

Finally, at 7 a.m. on Wednesday, authorities called Nofa’s son and said that a rescue boat had discovered him in the water, clinging to a buoy more than a kilometer (half a mile) away from the shore.

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Sergeant Major Sharon Malka, commander of the maritime rescue ship, said that “we noticed a head sticking out of the water. He didn’t move, and we thought that maybe he was no longer alive. When we got closer we saw, to our joy, that he was alive. We brought him onto the ship, and found that he was exhausted but in good health.”

Although dehydrated, Nofa was in such good condition physically that he did not need to be transported to the hospital.

“After an initial medical exam, I prepared him coffee and the officers gave him cookies, and we waited until his son came to pick him up,” said Magen David Adom paramedic Hagai Colton.

Speaking to Ynet, Nofa downplayed the seriousness of the incident, saying that “everything’s fine.”

When pressed to reveal how he survived the ordeal, Nofa said, “I was sure of myself. I kept calm.”

He added that “if the police had not found me in the morning, I believe that at some point I would have been able to make it back to the beach on my own. I was not afraid that I would drown … I am a person who is not afraid of the sea and the waves.”

However, Nofa’s son did not fully echo his father’s sentiments about the incident.

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“It was a great miracle that my father was out at sea for so many hours and remained alive,” he said.

“I feel that getting Dad back was a gift. It is not at all certain that he would have been able to return to the beach alone, and I am glad that the police were able to reach him and rescue him. I thank the police and Magen David Adom paramedics for helping him.”