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CA: Fisherman Shocked, Avoids Electrocution

Half Moon Bay, CA: Is Barry Day the luckiest or unluckiest man alive?

Day, a 50-year-old Pillar Point Harbor fisherman originally from New Zealand, has had a lifetime’s worth of tight scrapes, unforeseen accidents and sudden tragedies over the last year. On three occasions in 2012, he nearly lost his life. Those close calls cost him a fishing boat, an assortment of injuries and a small fortune in medical bills.

But through a combination of luck and pluck, Day has always been able to bounce back with gusto. Doctors and friends at the harbor now dub the happy-go-lucky fisherman, the “miracle man” after he barely escaped death once again last month.

In his latest brush, Day was nearly electrocuted just one day before Thanksgiving when a hookup fed a current through a puddle of water in his boat docked at Pillar Point Harbor. At the time, he was using an electric pump to replenish the water in his crab tanks.

Penny Webb, co-owner of the boat “Cricket,” was finishing up the crab sales for the day, when she heard Day yell out in pain across the dock. Her husband, Bill, spotted Day falling forward onto the deck of his boat and ran over to help.

“It was a heart attack, that’s what I was thinking,” Webb said. “He was laying over a motor … and I grabbed the motor — which was stupid — and I felt a tingle in my hand.”

Webb realized Day was being shocked by electricity, and he might have suffered the same jolt if he wasn’t wearing rubber boots that day. In contrast, Day was reportedly wearing leather shoes and his clothes were drenched in saltwater, making his body an excellent conductor.

Webb and other fishermen arriving to help began yanking out every power cord they could find around the boat while Penny called 911. Webb tried to shield Day’s body from the water overflowing from the boat’s crab tank. Around then, he noticed that Day’s body was going limp.

“He died in my arms. There was no pulse, no breathing,” Webb described.

Deputy Harbormaster Jacob Walding began performing CPR on the docks. Firefighters arriving on the scene used a defibrillator to resuscitate him. Paramedics reportedly revived him a second time while the ambulance was en route to the hospital.

At Seton Medical Center in Daly City, doctors examining Day were worried that the electrical shock could cause permanent brain damage. They gave him powerful sedatives and lowered his temperature to put his body in an induced coma.

Therese Smith, Day’s partner, recalled he was blue and lifeless lying in the intensive care ward. Medical staff warned her that his outlook was not good.

“The physician said he would be surprised if there was higher function in his brain when he came out of the coma,” she said. “The big question was if he could breathe on his own.”

Day was kept comatose for about two days, before doctors gradually reduced the sedatives to see what brain functions came back. They observed some promising signs. His pupils could follow the beam of a flashlight. About 12 hours later, Day began breathing on his own, overpowering the ventilator. By the end of the third day, he was conscious, although still heavily drugged. To the amazement of hospital staff, he had a full recovery.

“He’s nuts,” Smith summarized. “It was another situation where Barry’s army of guardian angels must be getting tired.”

Day was released from the hospital on Nov. 27. One day later, he was back at Pillar Point Harbor returning to work on his crab pots and ready to board his boat again without apprehension.

He’s had a big appetite. Taking a lunch break at Ketch Joanne’s, he scarfed down a steak sandwich, chowder and salad along with several cups of coffee. Next door at the Harbor Bar, the joke was the new drink was Barry on the Rocks with a shot of juice. Every five minutes, a friend or fisherman would drop in, shake Day’s hand, and crack a joke.

“Where’s your afro? How many lives do you have, bro?” one fisherman joked.

For many people who knew him, almost nothing about Day had changed — his sense of humor and energy were the same. He had no signs of injury except for a small gash on his forehead from when he hit the deck in the accident. Between bites of his sandwich, he insisted nothing had changed.

“What would you suggest that I do different? I haven’t had this big spiritual revelation,” he said. “My blessing is the people around here. I should be putting on lipstick and kissing everyone who helped me.”

He can’t remember anything about what he was doing before the electrical accident, but he believes the water pump he was using to cycle water into his crab tank may have shorted. Walking out to the parking lot, he picked up the culprit pump out of the back of his truck, and he pledged he was going to test it before risking another use.

It was not Day’s first close encounter. In October, he was heading home in his boat, the “Fjord Queen,” after a two-day solo fishing trip when he accidentally shipwrecked on the rocks near Pillar Point. Smith and Day were still working to clean up the boat wreckage when the electrical accident occurred.

Earlier this year, Day had another accident on his former boat, the “High Seas.” An old lead battery in the boat’s engine room exploded when he tried to pour more water into it. Pieces of the casing were flung at his face, cutting an artery in his forehead. The accident could have been fatal, but Day was able to get to a hospital in time.

In fact, this latest scrape wasn’t even the first time he had been in a coma. In his younger days, he once was out for days after a bad motorbike crash.

“He’s the luckiest person on Earth, no question,” Smith said.

Story via hmbreview.com

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