Sea-urchin diver found safe and sound near Nova Scotia's Digby Neck

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Posted by on December 15, 2004 at 11:32:46:

TIVERTON, N.S. (CP) - A sea-urchin diver reported missing off southwestern Nova Scotia turned up safe and sound Tuesday morning after an arduous swim and a night in the woods.

A coast guard spokesman said Shelburne, N.S., resident Todd Tudball, 38, was found shortly before 8 a.m. near Tiverton. Tudball was diving for urchins on Monday around 2:15 p.m. when strong tidal currents carried him more than three kilometres away along the ocean floor.

Tudball's diving companions didn't notice he was missing right away, and Tudball spent about four hours in the frigid Atlantic before making it to land.

"I swam hard to get to shore," Tudball told ATV news on Tuesday. "There was a fishing boat that went by and I tried to get his attention, but (the water) was just too rough, they couldn't see me at all."

Hercules aircraft dropped flares in the area and a number of vessels combed the waters Monday night.

After reaching shore, Tudball crawled through dense forest for six hours until he found a logging road, emerging just after 7 a.m. on Tuesday.

"It was hard," said Tudball's wife, Heidi, on Tuesday. "I was always hopeful, he's a very strong man and I knew if anybody could do it, he could."

RCMP Const. Cory Bushell said Tudball wore his dive gear throughout the night, allowing him to keep warmer than in normal clothes.

"He got himself on land and was able to keep himself warm during the night by moving around," he said.

Tudball, cold, sore and tired after his ordeal, was relatively calm after the incident.

"Things happen," he said. "People come through it and some people don't. It's very unfortunate for the people that don't and I'm very fortunate and happy that I did make it through."

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