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‘Divine intervention’ – Floating tiki bar priests rescue capsized kayaker

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Man rescued by priests on tiki bar

(WNYT/NBC News) -- An Albany, New York man says his prayer for help was answered in an unexpected way when he recently capsized his kayak on Lake George.

Jimmy MacDonald says he drifted away from his wife and stepkids because he was taking pictures with his new smartphone "and not really paying attention."

As he tried to make his way back, the water got choppier and he paddled harder before he tipped over and lost his paddle. 

He was in about 30 feet of water, his ill-fitting life jacket came up over his head while he was holding onto the kayak with one hand and his new $1,400 smartphone with the other. 

He says people---other kayakers and canoeists---were passing by in the distance, but the former amateur boxer's pride wouldn't let him scream for help.

So for several exhausting minutes he kept trying to right the kayak.

"That's when I said, 'Alright, I think I might die today. I think this might be it.' I prayed to my lord and savior Jesus Christ for help."

That's when he spotted a floating Tiki bar approaching.

"Then I look out of the corner of my eye and I see Greg and the tiki bar and they said do you need help and I said, 'yes, please, please.' At that point i was begging for help," said MacDonald.

Greg is Greg Barret a captain of the tiki tour boat. He says Jimmy was hanging on for dear life.

"I definitely believe it was a bit of a divine intervention."

And here's why, the passengers that day weren't partiers, they were priests and seminarians from the Paulist Fathers Retreat on Lake George.

MacDonald, a recovering addict, prays for help and it arrives in the form of priests on a floating bar.

"How funny is it that I've been sober for seven years and I get saved by a tiki bar," said MAcDonald.

The priests and seminarians who were on board have no doubt that a higher power played a role in them being exactly when Jimmy needed him.

"For us, that day, that was our mission was to be present and to help someone in need," said Chris Malano, Paulist Fathers Seminarian.

MacDonald compares the whole ordeal to his days of addiction.

He said, "asking for help sooner would have been a good idea, instead of waiting til it nearly cost me my life."

NBC News

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