Former survivor has a message of hope for missing Delray mom's family

Former survivor has a message of hope for missing Delray mom's family

Don't give up hope.

It's the message one man who survived at sea has for Isabella Hellman’s family.

Robert Stewart knows what it's like to be stranded out on ocean's water. The Port Saint Lucie man spent hours clinging to a capsized boat in the ocean and shares his story of survival at sea.

“First of all, just stay in prayer,” said Stewart.

It began as a fishing trip off the Treasure Coast for Stewart and three relatives, including his nine-year-old cousin, but something went wrong with their boat. The boat flooded with water then capsized. Stewart and his family clung to a piece of rope connected to the boat.

“It started to take on water,” said Stewart. “Something you see in a movie; you just expect it not to be happening.”

One by one, he saw his family members lose grip on the rope and disappear into the sea.

“It shows you how human you really are, how helpless you can truly be,” said Stewart.

Mentally, Stewart stayed sharp, but was physically strained. He says the way to stay alive, is conserving energy and adjusting your body.

“My teeth were chattering so bad,” said Stewart. “Closing my mouth when the waves hit, if I could close my nose even, because every little bit of water, your body is like a glass of water, your body can only hold so much.”

He attributes his faith in God, for getting him through the 22-plus hours he spent at sea.

“There were times when it was pitch black dark, but I could see as plain as day,” said Stewart. “I drifted about 15 miles from Jupiter to Stuart.”

The ocean's current eventually took him within 20 yards of the beach and he swam to shore and was spotted by a helicopter.

Stewart has sympathy for the Hellman family and shares this piece of advice: “My heart goes out to them…Stay hopeful, stay in prayer and stick to one another,” said Stewart.

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