An Austin area woman who floated in and out of consciousness for 18 hours in the Adriatic Sea in June of 1991, will finally get to thank her rescuers 26 years after the group of men saved her life.
The now 47-year-old Westlake mother of three, Simone Scialdo Krasan, plans to fly to Germany on Friday and meet up with the eight men in Austria on Tuesday for the long awaited reunion.
On June 18, 1991, the then 21-year-old had just embarked on a backpacking adventure across Europe with her best friend, Tina Tomlinson. The two Washington State University students met two other college students from the University of Texas, Larry Wellborn and Tonya Hancock, and hit it off immediately. In fact, all four planned to spend the rest of the summer traveling together. Krasan and Wellborn had an instant connection.
"We were going to go to Brindisi to take a ferry to Corfu, Greece," said Krasan.
Around 1 a.m., Krasan and Wellborn took a walk together. What happened next would change their lives forever.
"He picked me up and set me on the railing and I fell backward and I fell overboard about 40 feet into the Adriatic Sea," said Krasan.
Wellborn went in after her.
Krasan said they both yelled for help but no one heard or saw them.
"So we just had to watch as the ferry disappeared," Krasan said.
Krasan said for the next five to six hours, the two held each other. They talked about when they survived this, they would get married.
But Wellborn was having a hard time.
"We were completely exhausted and we had been taking turns sleeping and at one point I woke up and Larry was gone and that was the last time I ever saw him," Krasan said.
Krasan was now alone.
She floated for several more hours.
In the 18th hour, Krasan recalled her body shutting down. That's when a group of nine Austrian men saw her unconscious body.
"They spotted me as they were pulling their sails down, they saw something floating in the distance, which was me," Krasan said.
Krasan now wears a gold necklace with a bar pendant that is engraved with the exact location where she was rescued.
"It's north 39 degrees and east 19 degrees," Krasan explained.
"The wonderful 9 Austrian men," she recalled.
Krasan considers them her saviors and has a 26 by 33 framed picture of them that hangs in her bedroom.
Krasan is now writing a book about her experience.
She read a portion of it for us.
"I have not seen the crew of the Sir Thomas, my saviors, since the accident but we do keep in touch and I look forward to a reunion with them in the near future. Sadly, Johann Jager, the angel who first caught sight of me floating in the distance, was killed in a car accident years ago. I am certain, once reunited with the crew, we will celebrate his life and raise our glasses in his memory," Krasan read.
When she started a year and a half ago, meeting her rescuers was just a dream.
Come Friday, that dream will finally become a reality.
"I'm so excited to go see them," Krasan said.
The book is dedicated to Wellborn. It is expected to be out in 2018.