Mississippi man’s TikTok goes viral after posting ‘last message’ to family, dog when boat sinks

A ‘last message’ from Biloxi boater Easton Barrett has been seen on TikTok by more than 6 million when posting boat sinking, rescue after 4.5 hours in water.

BILOXI, Miss — Never in a million years did admitted Titantic-enthusiast and Biloxi boater Easton Barrett think he’d find himself desperately clinging onto a floating water cooler in shark-infested waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

But that’s exactly where the 33-year-old Mississippi fisherman and four friends found themselves when their boat mysteriously sank during a fishing tournament last Saturday.

Just hours into the Mary Walker Marian Snapper Showdown, the group of five bounced from reef to reef looking for schools of fish when all of a sudden the two 225 horsepower outboard engines died.

When attempts to restart the motors failed, the men noticed water swamping the 28-foot Pursuit center console fishing boat. Within minutes, Barrett and company grabbed what they could before the vessel was completely submerged. 

According to the former powerline worker, who now owns S&E Underground Utilities and Directional Drilling, the sinking happened so quickly that there was no time to call help or grab flares.

“The boat went down so fast, we barely had time to grab our lifejackets and the bail-out bag with the EPIRB,” Barrett told WWL Louisiana, with the latter referring to the Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon. “We couldn’t send a mayday or anything.”

With the men now treading in 80-degree water and hanging on to three floating ice chests, Barrett surprisingly found his phone while searching his pockets, as he said he normally placed it on the boat’s console to avoid accidentally dropping it in the ocean while fishing.

Within four minutes of being in the Gulf about 30 miles offshore,  Barrett shook out the water from his phone and began calling his girlfriend and mother. With no cell service and less than 20 percent battery remaining, he recorded a short video to send what he felt could be his final message to his family and a 12-week-old puppy named Louie.

“Well, the boat sank. No bueno,” Barrett explained in the video, which he later posted to TikTok, where it has been viewed more than 6 million times.

In the viral video featuring Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” from the movie Titanic, Barrett posted: “The day all our life changed! Thank you to the to the dolphin island uscg for saving our lifes! Thanks to @YETI for building an amazing ice chest and thanks to the EPIRB GPS IF YALL DONT HAVE ONE GET ONE IT WILL SAVE YIUR LIFE!”

*Story continues below TikTok posts

@eastonrbarrett

The day all our life changed! Thank you to the to the dolphin island uscg for saving our lifes! Thanks to @YETI for building an amazing ice chest and thanks to the EPIRB GPS IF YALL DONT HAVE ONE GET ONE IT WILL SAVE YIUR LIFE!

♬ My Heart Will Go On (Titanic) – Maliheh Saeedi & Faraz Taali

@eastonrbarrett

We will do a sit down story time tomorrow to tell yall what happened to the best of our ability!

♬ Hallelujah God Is Good – New Horizons Worship & Jake Shivley

Barrett said once they hit the water, their main goal was to remain calm and stay together.

“Everybody immediately grabbed each other because we knew we could not get separated,” Barrett explained. “We knew we were in a bad situation. Of the 44 boats in the fishing shootout, we were the only boat that went in the opposite direction. We could see boats in the distance but by the time we made our way towards them, they would motor off.

“I really thought that might be my last recorded words,” he continued. “I tried sending it to my family, but couldn’t without a signal.”

For more than four hours, the men drifted east before being found by the Coast Guard in Alabama waters between 12 to 15 miles from where the boat went down.

“We were so happy to see the Coast Guard,” said Barrett. “We weren’t sure the signal was picked up, and we were afraid we might still be out there after nightfall.”

The group’s fears were compounded by the knowledge of sharks swimming in the area, including repeated visits by great whites tracked in the Gulf by OSEARCH, a data-centric global non-profit organization tracking marine life around the world.

“I personally did not see a shark, but we did feel something brush up against us underneath the surface,” claimed Barrett. “It’s nerve-wracking to know you’re floating in waters filled with bull sharks, let alone tigers and great whites.”

Barrett credits the three coolers and the EPIRB with saving their lives and said it’s paramount for boaters to purchase proper equipment and have a plan already put together when the unthinkable happens.

“Nobody thinks it’s going to happen to them, I sure as Hell didn’t,” said Barrett. “Sure we had lifejackets, but they were cheap and within an hour were waterlogged and useless. The coolers kept us afloat. You get tired after 4.5 hours in the water. And 80 degrees sounds warm, but when you’re 98.6 it starts to feel cold after a while.”

*Story continues below image

Two men clung to a YETI cooler, while two others held on to an Igloo. Barret had a YETI of his own.

“I wasn’t sure I’d see my family or my dog again,” he said. “It was a scary situation and one I hope others can learn from.”

Barrett said EPIRBs – like lifejackets – should be mandatory equipment, he plans to make it his mission to lobby for a law to make it so.

“Without a doubt, the EPIRB saved our lives,” he said. “The lifejackets we had were only good for about an hour or so, once they were soaked, they were useless and weighed us down. The EPIRB’s signal alerted the Coast Guard and that made the difference.

“EPIRBs should be a requirement for all boaters.”

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