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Stranded kitesurfer used his Apple Watch to call for help in shark-infested waters

Yoni Heisler

Over the past few years, we’ve seen quite a few stories detailing how the heart sensor on the Apple Watch has helped save lives. Just last month, for example, we covered a man who went to the hospital after noticing that his heart rate was abnormally high via a connected iOS app. Come to find out, doctors soon discovered that the man had a pulmonary embolism and would have likely died had his Apple Watch not sent him an alert.

More recently, a kitesurfer stranded in shark-infested waters off the coast of California used his brand new Apple Watch with LTE connectivity to call for help. In a story that first appeared in the Daily Mail, seasoned kitesurfer John Zilles was out on the water when his HydroFoil (the board kitesurfers stand upon) managed to escape.


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With no HydroFoil, Zilles was effectively left to fend for himself in potentially unfriendly waters. Compounding matters was the fact that Zilles was a good mile from the shore.

“Suddenly I was a mile offshore and my ride was over,” Zilles explained. “I realized I needed to get everything together and start swimming to shore, which was difficult as I had a lot of gear with me.”

Mid-swim, Zilles remembered that he was wearing an Apple Watch with LTE, thereby enabling him to make calls. After trying to swim to shore for a bit, Zilles became reasonably wary of sharks in the vicinity and used his Apple Watch to call the local Harbor Patrol and ask for assistance. 15 minutes later, a boat intercepted and whisked him back to shore.

Interestingly, Zilles was so impacted by the experience that he reportedly emailed Tim Cook about his harrowing his experience, to which the Apple CEO responded: “wow. happy to hear you are safe.”

On a related note, it’s worth pointing out that Apple Watch sales are booming. During Apple’s recent earnings conference call, the company revealed that Apple Watch sales increased by more than 50% year over year for the third quarter in a row.

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See the original version of this article on BGR.com