Man struck by fishing boat while vacationing in St. Barts saved by deckhand who jumped into action to save him

Mike Higbee broke six vertebrae and sustained a gash on his forehead.

A tourist who almost lost his life while vacationing with his family in the Caribbean island of St. Barts was able to thank the man who saved him after he was struck by a fishing boat.

On Dec. 30, musician Mike Higbee was exploring the Atlantic Ocean off the Leeward Islands on a Jet Ski when he saw a fishing boat barreling toward him at full speed, he told "Good Morning America."

"I knew that there was gonna be an impact," he said. "It was unavoidable."

Higbee said the boat was about 5 feet away from him.

The collision left him facedown in the water and bleeding, he said. His brother, who was nearby, was unable to flip him over on his own. West Palm Beach resident Ryan Rivenburgh, 21, was working as a deckhand on a 157-foot yacht named Rebel nearby and witnessed the accident.

Rivenburgh quickly boarded another Jet Ski and helped to pull Higbee, who had a 10-centimeter gash on his forehead, out of the water. He and the other rescuers believed they "were fishing out a non-living person," Rivenburgh told ABC West Palm Beach affiliate WPBF.

Higbee also fractured six vertebrae in the collision and his recovery will likely take months. A plastic surgeon who was also vacationing on the island stitched up the gash on his forehead, he said.

"This has given me a real sense of gratitude for being alive," he said.

Higbee spoke to Rivenburgh over video conference on Friday, expressing his gratitude for helping to pull him out of the water.

"It’s sort of fun to think a kid half my age saved my life," Higbee said. "He’s my hero."