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Since Islamorada, Florida, charter-boat skipper Nick Stanczyk earned his captain’s license 11 years ago, he has led clients to numerous swordfish and other trophy gamefish catches off the Florida Keys.
But the 29-year-old University of Miami graduate never wanted to catch a swordfish for a client more than the one he did on Saturday.
Since 2008 Logan Prickett, 19, of Montgomery has been confined to a wheelchair and is legally blind. In September of that year he had an almost fatal reaction to intravenous contrast dye administered during a routine MRI test to examine his pituitary gland.
He was without a natural heartbeat and breath for 45 minutes and doctors told his mother Tammy Prickett he would not survive. But he did and subsequently proved doctors wrong again when he emerged from a 12-day coma, his mother said.
Despite having significant motor-control deficits and not being able to speak above a whisper, he endured more than three years of physical and occupational therapy. He recently graduated in the top 10 of his magnet high school class and continues rehabilitation at home.
Before the life-changing medical incident, young Prickett enjoyed the outdoor world of hunting and fishing. Afterward, his chances of experiencing that again seemed slim.
But during the last few years, his mother has seen her son overcome obstacles that neither of them ever envisioned.
After Googling fishing, Logan Prickett’s neighbor and classmate, Hunter Mills, discovered an episode of the 2013 Weather Channel television mini-series called Reel Rivals. The show chronicled the daily competitive lives of four charterboat fishing captains at Bud N’ Mary’s Marina in Islamorada.
The segment he found focused on swordfishing off the Keys and Mills watched it with Prickett, describing the visuals to his friend.
And so earlier this school year, when Tammy Prickett began discussing a post-high school graduation trip, both teens immediately told her, “We want to go to the ‘Sportfishing Capital of the World’ (Islamorada) to catch a swordfish.”
Last Friday was their first day of fishing with Stanczyk and they lost two swordfish.
“We were heartbroken,” Stanczyk said. “Logan sat in the blazing sun for six hours next to that swordfish rod and reel and never complained.”
But Saturday proved different. The first swordfish that was hooked stayed on the line as Prickett, using an electric-assist reel, helped crank the 105-pounder to the boat with the rod and reel in the boat’s rod holder.
Stanczyk said that when the fish was boated, Prickett methodically ran his hand along the fish’s tail and bill.
“Logan had the biggest smile of anyone I’ve ever seen,” said Stanczyk. “I cried. It’s the happiest I’ve ever felt for someone catching a fish.”
Stanczyk said the family has commissioned a reproduction mount and there will be plenty of swordfish steaks for a very large dinner party in Montgomery.
Later Saturday, Logan Prickett reeled in a second swordfish, but the small 40-pounder was released.
Tammy Prickett said her son will study at Auburn University’s Montgomery campus in the fall and hopes one day to manage an aquaculture business.
“He wants to overcome as much as he can and prove to himself he can,” Prickett said. “It shows others we don’t have to let our circumstances limit our lives.”
(Photo: Hunter Mills/FKNB)