A Maryland man is being called a hero by the few who managed to collect their jaw from the floor once they found out that he swam a marathon five hours in order to save his family after their fishing boat capsized.
John Franklin Riggs, 46, was fishing with his family when their boat capsized during a storm in Chesapeake Bay off the Maryland coast. Leaving his life jacket-clad family members clinging to their boat, Riggs swam for several miles back to shore in order to get help.
He reached the rocky shoreline of Deal Island, scrambled to dry land, and knocked on the door of the first house he saw.
"He said, 'I've been swimming since sundown; I need help,'" said Angela Byrd, who answered her door to find a soaking wet, barefoot Riggs in the early morning hours.
Byrd dialed 911, rescue crews were dispatched, and the family were all found alive and well.
The fishing trip was organized by Riggs' 70-year-old father, also named John. Also on the boat were Riggs' sister Contessa and her 3-year-old son Conrad Drake. The elder Riggs' 9-year-old granddaughter Emily Horn was also visiting.
"These people are very lucky. No one was injured," said Sgt. Brian Albert at the Maryland Natural Resources Police.
"I've never been so happy to see search boats in my life," Contessa said. "It took him five hours to swim ashore. He had to stop and grab a crab pot buoy and rest, then swim.
Emily called her uncle a "real hero" and said she'd accompany the family on another trip on one condition: "I'll go if the water is really shallow."
No one commented on how Riggs was able to swim five hours lugging around those giant, brass balls of his.
[Image via: Shutterstock]