Tourist Survives 18 Hours at Sea By Clinging to a Soccer Ball

Photos by Kassandra Mayor Anastasia Chalkia / Facebook

Strong currents swept a 30-year-old man out to sea while he was on a beach vacation—but reminiscent of the movie Castaway, he now has a soccer ball to thank for his survival.

The Macedonia man spent 18 hours holding on to the partially-deflated leather ball in the Aegean Sea before he was rescued 15 miles away.

Though a good swimmer, Ivan was growing tired when his luck changed, and the rainbow-colored ball came floating toward him, reports Serbian news site, Telegraf.

When news broke about Ivan’s real-life ‘Wilson!’ experience, a pair of Greek children reported that the colorful ball ended up in the sea 10 days earlier when they were playing football on the island of Lemnos—80 miles away.

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Ivan was spotted by a Greek Air Force helicopter involved in the search team that was also looking for Ivan’s friend, who hasn’t been found, according to Global News.

Kassandra Mayor Anastasia Chalkia shared a photo posing with the ball alongside Ivan’s father outside a hospital in the northern peninsula municipality.

“I had constant information on the course of the rescue and am very happy about the smooth ending of the young man’s adventure.”

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