Fishermen have been known to tell incredible stories, but the one charter boat captains Mark Pisano and Paul Strasser relayed is very real.
Thirty-five years ago, the two were piloting a charter returning from Catalina Island off California’s coast when they spotted a capsized boat and a life vest bobbing up and down in the water, according to CBS News.
Pisano immediately dove in and pulled nine-year-old Desiree Rodriguez out of the waves. She was the only survivor.
“That story, it really throws a loop at me,” Strasser recalled.
“It was catastrophic. Imagining what she went through that day is unspeakable, really,” Pisano said.
The little girl’s mother, father, sister, aunt, and uncle died during the incident and she had been in the water for 20 hours when the fishermen rescued her.
That was the last time they saw Rodriguez but it did not keep them from wondering about her.
However, everything changed when podcaster Phil Friedman invited the men to appear on his show with a surprise guest.
During the episode, the fishermen recounted their story and were then reintroduced to Rodriguez once she revealed her identity.
“I’m Desiree,” she told the men who were visibly emotional:
“When I connected with them, they brought a lot of closure,” Rodriguez later commented.
Following their reunion, the group has stayed in touch and the fishermen recently invited Rodriguez, the aunt who raised her after the accident, and other family members on a little ocean journey. It was Rodriguez’s first time back on the water and to the place she was rescued.
“I’m glad we could come together today and kinda heal,” she said during the excursion.
Despite her great loss, Rodriguez is thankful for the guardian angels who saved her life.
“I hope to know you guys forever,” she told the men.
“You know everyone says God works in mysterious ways,” Pisano commented.