VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - The woman who survived a boating collision with a Virginia Beach tourist ship Saturday talked to 10 On Your Side about her near-death experience.
26-year-old Yvette Byali and her 30-year-old boyfriend were in a kayak near the Rudee Inlet when it crashed with a mock pirate ship called The Lost Pearl. Blyai escaped from the kayak with no bumps or brusies, but her boyfriend almost lost his life and remains in the intensive care unit at Virginia Beach Genera Hospital. Blyai says her boyfriend is speaking today and making minor improvements.
The family has hired an attorney who advised them not to reveal the identity of Blyai's boyfriend or release pictures. But the family did say how grateful they are Blyai and her boyfriend are alive.
"It's rough," Blyai said. "I'm thankful that he is still living and that he pulled through. He is a strong fighter."
Blyai says she and her boyfriend went to Rudee Inlet to celebrate moving in together.
"It was a new start, a new beginning," said Blyai.
But their new life together almost ended when their kayak collided with the tourist ship. Witnesses say Blyai's boyfriend was sucked under the boat until bystanders jumped in the water to help.
"You can only imagine what it is like to almost lose the love of your life within a few seconds," said Blyai.
Strangers and bystanders from all over the inlet jumped in to save Blyai and her boyfriend.
"People jumped in the water, people came from speedboats," Blyai said. "I can't get into the situation too much, but there were peope trying to save his life and my life as well."
At one point, her boyfriend even flat-lined, but somehow he is alive and slowly recovering.
"It was pretty severe, pretty severe," Blyai said. "I'm just thankful his life wasn't taken away from him."
Blyai and her family now want to reach out to the strangers who she believes gave her boyfriend a second chance at life.
"They performed CPR and pulled him up, and pulled me up out of the water," Blyai said. "They saved our lives, they really truly saved our lives. They are truly a blessing. I just want to hold their hand and talk to them."
The U.S. Coast Guard is still investigating the boating collision between the kayak and the pirate ship. So far, the 'Lost Pearl' is still in operation and no restrictions have been placed on the captain.
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