ROME — An Italian man fell asleep on an inflatable air mattress in the sea off the coast of Calabria and floated some 15 miles across the Strait of Messina to Sicily, where he was eventually discovered by the Coast Guard.
The 28-year-old Luigi Vazzana was reportedly carried by a strong current and pulled far from Scilla, where he had fallen asleep, only to wake hours later in unfamiliar waters.
On Saturday evening around 5:00pm, Vazzana had paddled away from the shore off Scilla to rest on his mattress and eventually fell asleep. Around 7:45pm, friends who were at the beach with him began to become alarmed when he did not return and they could not see him on the horizon.
The friends called Vazzana’s parents and sister and alerted the harbor master’s office and soon a search party was organized.
A helicopter, four patrol boats, and divers were mobilized to find the man in the bay of Marina Grande in Scilla. But only nine hours later, early Sunday morning, the Coast Guard finally found the young man just off Messina, in Sicily, clinging to his mattress and unharmed, though badly shaken up.
A similar mishap occurred in the summer of 2017, when an eighteen-year-old Ukrainian fell asleep floating on an air mattress in the Black Sea, in Ukraine, and was found three days later off the coast of Crimea.