FLORIDA COAST - Lost at sea with nothing to hold onto amid a dreadful darkness, Florida resident Walter Marino continually called out some of the few words his 12-year-old autistic son Christopher responds to. The pair, swept out in a late-afternoon current near Daytona Beach, had been treading water in shark- and jellyfish-infested waters throughout the night, slowly floating apart.
“I’d be screaming, ‘To infinity ... and beyond!’ ” Marino said, referring to the Disney character Buzz Lightyear’s catchphrase in “Toy Story,” one of Christopher’s favorite movies. “Then I would hear him and it would be more and more and more distant, until finally I couldn’t hear anything.”
Happily — perhaps miraculously — both father and son survived the night, thanks to good Samaritans and the U.S. Coast Guard. Walter and Christopher Marino, along with Walter’s daughter Angela and the children’s mother, Robin Bishop, beamed their way through a joyous interview on Wednesday.
Walter, Christopher and Angela were enjoying a family day at the beach at the Ponce Inlet south of Daytona Sept. 6. Late in the afternoon, Christopher was swimming near his father when he got caught in a current, and his dad paddled rapidly to retrieve him.
“We were both just sucked out. The forces just took us out so quickly, it totally took me by surprise.”