Kayaker stranded in Sound for 17 hours credits lifejacket

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LLOYD HARBOR -

What started as a beautiful day of kayaking turned into a near-death experience that left a Lloyd Harbor man stranded in the Long Island Sound for 17 hours.

Michael Diaz says he was fishing aboard his 14-foot kayak Saturday like he had dozens of times before. He says when the weather became rough, his vessel flipped and started to sink. He was just off Caumsett State Park and the tide was quickly pulling him out into the middle of Long Island Sound.

"All my efforts to get to the beach  [were]  not working. It's the equivalent of a swimmer at the beach getting pulled out in the undertow," Diaz tells News 12 Long Island

Diaz, who was wearing a lifejacket, says the tide pulled him all the way across the Sound toward the Connecticut shoreline. 

After failing to catch the attention of a few boats late Sunday morning, he was able to reach Greens Ledge Lighthouse, which is perched on some rocks a mile off Norwalk.

"In the morning, I got my hand on the rung of the ladder of the lighthouse, and I looked at my watch and said, 'It's over,'" said Diaz.

After a boater spotted him, Diaz was rescued by the Suffolk County Police Department's Marine Bureau. He says he wouldn't be alive if it wasn't for his lifejacket.
     
Despite the ordeal, Diaz tells News 12 that kayak fishing is his "passion" and that he would like to go onto the waters of the Sound again. 

"But right now, I've got other things to take care of," he says.

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