Yacht deckhand helps save Jet Ski rider after crash

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (WPBF/CNN) – A Jet Ski rider who was hit by a boat during a terrifying accident last month is thanking a yacht deckhand who helped save his life.

A Jet Ski rider who was hit by a fishing boat in a terrifying crash is grateful for a deckhand who saved his life. (Source: WPBF/Hearst/Joel Antoinette/CNN)

Ryan Rivenburgh, a 21-year-old deckhand onboard the 157-foot yacht Rebel, recalled the moment he saw a boat collide with the man off Saint Barthelemy in the Leeward Islands in December.

"I took my phone out, threw the hat off and dove down in the water," said Rivenburgh, who hopped on his own personal watercraft and rushed to help the man.

The victim, musician Mike Higbee, was bleeding and unconscious, but alive.

“I don’t remember the impact, but I do remember having a sinking feeling of like, ‘This is happening,’” Higbee said.

Higbee added that he suffered six fractured vertebrae and a 10-centimeter gash on his head.

"A couple people I remember seeing had thought that we were fishing out a nonliving person,” Rivenburgh said.

The men who’d hit Higbee helped Rivenburgh pull him out of the water and rush him to shore.

“I said, ‘Please tell my wife and kids I love them,’” Higbee said.

Higbee is expected to make a full recovery.

On Friday, he finally got the chance to thank Rivenburgh for saving him.

"Don't ever shy away from someone who needs help, and don't hesitate to ask for others to come help,” Rivenburgh said.

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