A man getting ready to watch the sunrise on a piece of plywood in a marina was swept out by the Hudson River current and wound up about 2 nautical miles away near Governors Island.
"He was 19-years-old, freezing cold and scared to death," Fire Department of New York Capt. Louis Guzzo said.
The man, identified as Armaan Raj Munglani, a tourist from London, was sent drifting into the river on an 8-foot-long piece of plywood on Thursday around 4:45 a.m., a little more than half an hour before the sun came up.
"At first, we just thought it was debris," Guzzo said. "You wouldn't put this thing on a lake much less New York Harbor."
Munglani told rescuers from fire department marine units that he went out to the dock at the Newport Yacht Club and Marina in Jersey City to watch the sun come up.
"It was incredibly unstable and he's lucky to be alive. He had ridden the current on his makeshift platform all the way from Jersey City, with the wind blowing so hard that there were whitecaps on the water. It was very choppy, and very dangerous. The Harbor is busy, even at night, and he didn't come up on the radar. This could have ended badly," Guzzo said.
Guzzo said he believes the man stayed on the piece of wood because he didn't want to jump into the water and lose his cellphone while swimming back. Instead, Guzzo said, the man stayed in the center of the plywood as it floated farther into the harbor's highly traveled commercial lanes.
Munglani was rescued unharmed about a quarter-mile from Governors Island, a 172-acre island in the heart of the harbor close to lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Guzzo said Munglani was very happy to see the rescue team and hugged members of Marine Unit 1 after he was pulled onboard.
With the Associated Press