RONKONKOMA, Long Island (WABC) — An ordinary day of hunting for Nick Shakalis almost turned deadly.

The 34-year-old inventory manager from Plainview was clinging to his overturned kayak in Narrow Cove near Mastic Beach after he says a strong gust of wind knocked him over.

“The wind was going one way, and I think the current was spinning the other way, creating an eddy,” Shakalis said.

The jackal stuck in the freezing water like a duck.

“I just held on to everything because the kayak was going to float, I knew it. I also had a life jacket in my other hand, so I held on as best I could,” he said.

Shakalis says he was trying to get a goose he shot while hunting out of the water. His cousin and friend, who were on the shore, called the police – but time was running out.

“It really was a matter of minutes,” Stony Brook Hospital paramedic Erin Carey said.

Suffolk County Police Officer Jonathan Jensen jumped in.

“It was a little scary to see the condition he was in,” Jensen said. – He spoke in words. He could tell me his name, how old he was, but he didn’t really use his limbs anymore. “

“My fingers, hands and arms went numb,” Shakalis said.

“He was barely holding on to the kayak,” Jensen added.

After 40 minutes in the water, Shakalis was carried more than a quarter of a mile back to shore.

Suffolk police rushed him to Stony Brook University Hospital

“I definitely consider myself lucky to be alive,” Shakalis said.

Shakalis had a message for the officers.

“Forever grateful to you guys and I’m going to stop by and say hi sometime in a day or two,” he said.

“We’d like to see him in better shape, obviously,” said Pilot Master Sgt. John Wahey.

Shakalis’ brother says their family is overwhelmed with gratitude because without first responders, Shakalis wouldn’t be here.

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