Standing chest deep in a swampy area about a half mile from where they abandoned their raft on the Chipuxet River, Darin Pierce told NBC 10 on Tuesday all he could think about was saving his 12-year-old son, Logan.
"He didn't deserve to die that way," he said.
The Pierces intended to take a raft three miles to Worden Pond on Aug. 4. But they got lost.
Christine Pierce, Darin's wife, called police when she didn't hear from them several hours later. The Coast Guard and state and local authorities searched the area with canoes and a helicopter.
Darin Pierce told NBC 10 he started forging east toward Route 110 but couldn't get through the thick prickers and brush.
"I was pushing them down and ripping them. I couldn't do anything with my hands for like three days. They were completely shredded, couldn't lift a pencil," he said.
It was that path he made that rescuers eventually used to find the father and son, but not after they spent the night in the swamp and watched a helicopter pass over them several times.
"Sideways like that looking into the brush and I see all three of them. That's when my son really lost heart, when that chopper left," Darin Pierce said.
All the while they could hear the search going around them. Darin Pierce said he could hear people calling for him.
"I could hear my mom and my sister, and next morning my dad came down," he said.
Darin said it was frustrating because they couldn't hear him and he'd been yelling all night.
Eventually, South Kingstown firefighters found them calling out their names.
"He had a loud voice, and fortunately as good ears as voice," Darin said.
A Coast Guard helicopter lifted the father and son to safety.
"It was 100 feet in four seconds toward the rotary blade. At the last second before you get chopped by the blades, they pull you into the chopper," Darin said.
Darin said he couldn't wait to hug his son.
"I'm glad he went first. Once he was in the basket, I was OK," he said.
Darin said he's relieved and extremely grateful to those who found him.
"They're heroes as far as I'm concerned. They saved my life," he said.
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