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Heroic rescue off Nova Scotia’s mysterious Oak Island involves cast member of famed show

Oak Island, N.S., may be known for its supposed curse and treasure, but one man who went overboard and nearly drowned was lucky to be found alive by a group touring the area on Monday.

Before the rescue started, tour operator Tony Sampson was talking about how there’s an Oak Island Triangle, similar to the Bermuda Triangle, where mysterious things happen. A passenger’s hat blew off and the captain turned the boat around to get it. As they got closer, they saw a man in the water.

“Initially, we thought maybe it was part of the triangle … or something to do with the tour, we weren’t sure that he was not being part of a gimmick … but then we saw the body floating and a man’s hand came up,” said passenger Pamela Briggs-Dans from Dartmouth, N.S.

Briggs-Dans said Sampson, who appears on the TV show, The Curse of Oak Island, sprang into action immediately. She said Sampson, who is a paramedic, plus two of her brothers and Yarmouth, N.S., firefighter David Winship helped get the man on the boat.

“It was very difficult to lift the man into the boat, but they were able to get him in there and it was quite an ordeal,” Briggs-Dans said.

‘All the stars aligned for this man’

Sampson told CBC Nova Scotia News at Six he used a boat hook to pull the man onboard.

“He was getting washed over by the swell. The wind had actually changed in the afternoon and that’s what swamped the small boat,” Sampson said.

“He was actually rolling his eyes and he was minutes away from death. All the stars aligned for this man, it was just not his day to die.”

Briggs-Dans said at first, the man appeared to be unconscious, but then he started talking.

“If we had kept going full speed that we were, if the hat hadn’t flown off my brother-in-law’s head, I doubt very seriously we would have seen the man in the water at all,” she said.

The rescued man’s boat washed ashore on Oak Island. Sampson said it has been repaired so the man can take it out on the water again once he’s feeling better.

‘A team effort’

Winship, the firefighter, said he heard the rescued man was “doing all right.”

“The timing couldn’t have been any better for us to arrive … it turned out to be a good day, obviously, for him,” Winship said.

“… Overall it was a team effort from the tour operator to the other passengers to get him on board to take care of him, take care of his vitals. No one of us could probably do it alone. It was a good job for everybody.”

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