Bridge City teen, rescued from sea, says she dodged death

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wwltv.com

Posted on July 7, 2013 at 10:59 AM

Updated Sunday, Jul 7 at 11:28 AM

Jaclyn Kelley / Eyewitness News
Email: jkelley@wwltv.com | Twitter: @jkelleyWWL

BRIDGE CITY, La. -- Just one week after being stranded at sea, a Bridge City teen is back home.

Friends and family gathered to welcome Amber Burkett home Saturday afternoon. The 16-year-old was headed to the Island of Utila, Honduras, when she and her friends became lost at sea. Before being rescued, Burkett went without food or water for four days.

It was an emotional homecoming as friends and family welcomed Burkett home.

"I don't have the words to express the joy, the deep gratitude and prayers answered," said Sue Capehart, Burkett's grandmother.

But no one was more happy to be home than the 16-year-old teen who, just one week ago, got stranded at sea off the coast of Honduras while vacationing.

"It feels good. I never thought I was going to get home," said Burkett. "So, it's a wonderful feeling to finally be home."

The teen was traveling with eight friends from the island of Roatan to the island of Utila, 18 miles away. But when the boat was just five miles away from Utila, it ran out of gas.

"Tuesday I was really sick, I couldn't move, I couldn't talk, my hands were turning purple," the teen said. "I was out of it and at that point, I was like, 'OK, I am going to die.'"

It would be four days, without shade, food or water, before the U.S. Coast Guard finally found the stranded boaters nearly 55 miles off course.

"I can't imagine what she went through, I don't even want to be in her shoes," said her mother Jackie Capehart. "She is strong. She is a survivor."

The teen says she and the others tried to use a tarp as a sail to get home. They even took turns covering themselves with shirts to protect themselves from the sun, but it wasn't enough to keep the dehydrated teen from getting severe sunburns and blisters all over her body.

All the while, she says she could not stop thinking of her mother and the rest of her family back home.

"It was very emotional because not being able to talk to her for five days, knowing what she was going through, what she was probably thinking, what she was probably hearing," said Burkett.

Now that worry has turned to joy, knowing she is finally back home.

The family is planning to have a coming home party for the teen Sunday afternoon. In the meantime, Burkett wants to get a pedicure and relax with her family.

 

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