An Aransas Pass scuba diver, Captain Brent Casey, is lucky to be alive Monday, after his scuba gear malfunctioned over the weekend off the coast of Port Aransas.
He was more than 140-feet beneath the surface at the time.
"All that was going through my mind was, this is not happening. This can't be. And I'm thinking about grand kids, kids and my wife. And I'm going, 'I'm not going, I'm not going to leave. I can't go,'' Casey said. "It was the most peaceful feeling."
Was this a near death experience? Maybe.
The 60-year old has been diving the Gulf of Mexico for more than 30 years. He operates his own fishing charters and gulf expeditions, so being out in the middle of the Gulf and in the ocean is nothing new.
On Sunday, he was helping out Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi's Harte Institute, checking on some underwater sensors that monitor fish migrations; but at around 3 p.m., 32 miles off the coast of Port Aransas, the unexpected happened.
His equipment indicated his tanks were out of oxygen.
"It happened so fast. I put the regulator in my mouth. Cleared again. I took in a breath of air and when I did, it was water," Casey said. "I sucked in water and I got choked. I hit the purge button held it, and it was like blowing water down my throat instead of air."
Unconscious, Casey was brought back up to the ship and administered CPR. A Coast Guard helicopter transported him to Spohn Shoreline Hospital where he underwent hyperbaric treatment to de-pressurize his body.
Casey's recollection of what happened is vague, but he emerged with a better understanding.
"I know what's on the other side, and I know there's a God," Casey said, "and yesterday wasn't my time. And I believe that wholeheartedly. I'm going try to be a better husband, a better father and the greatest grandfather that's ever lived."
Casey said he has so many people to thank who were onboard the ship Orion. He said he will forever be grateful to them for their lifesaving skills, training and dedication.
And as far as going back out for more dives, he said he doesn't plan to stop any time soon.
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