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‘Bubble man’ tries and fails to walk to New York

Reza Baluchi attempted to “run” 1,000 miles from Florida to Bermuda in an inflatable bubble in 2014. He was rescued by the US Coast Guard (File photograph)

A man who was rescued by the US Coast Guard in 2014 trying to travel from Florida to Bermuda by sea in a floating bubble, has drifted ashore trying to “walk” to New York from Florida.

Reza Baluchi, a marathon runner and Iranian exile, was featured on Fox 35 Orlando, a Fox-owned TV station, after he attempted to traverse the ocean in an inflatable “hydropod” but ended up washing ashore in Flagler County on Saturday morning.

His first attempt in 2014 ended up costing the US Coast Guard more than $144,000 in a rescue mission 70 nautical miles off the coast of St Augustine, Florida.

In an exclusive interview at the weekend with Fox 35 Orlando, Mr Baluchi said: "My goal is to not only raise money for homeless people, raise money for the Coast Guard, raise money for the police department, raise money for the fire department. They are in public service, they do it for safety and they help other people."

In 2014, the US Coast Guard said it would not risk the lives of its servicemen and women rescuing Mr Baluchi if he attempted the journey again.

Lt Cmdr Gabe Somma told this newspaper back then: “The Coast Guard has a proud history of providing lifesaving service to mariners in distress. However, we will not unnecessarily risk the lives of our Coast Guard men and women.”

Undaunted, in April of 2016, Mr Baluchi built a second hydropod, a plastic bubble supported by buoys and a metal frame, and embarked again. However, he was stopped by the US Coast Guard who called the voyage “unsafe”, and threatened him with prison and fines.

According to the Florida-based Sun Sentinel, Mr Baluchi made a third attempt in July, 2016 and had to be rescued off the coast of Jupiter – the northernmost town in Palm Beach County, Florida.

He was subsequently taken to shore and admitted to the Jacksonville Mental Health Resource Centre for observation but was released two days later.

He told the newspaper at the time that the July attempt would not be his last.

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Published July 27, 2021 at 7:25 am (Updated July 27, 2021 at 7:25 am)

‘Bubble man’ tries and fails to walk to New York

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