You can survive in 78deg water for a very long time, and most of the people on board swam to the shore quite quickly, and the rescuers came on the scene promptly.
“You can survive in 78deg water for a very long time, and most of the people on board swam to the shore quite quickly, and the rescuers came on the scene promptly.”
Some people can survive in 78F water for a prolonged period of time, while other people in poor physical condition and/or having just suffered physical trauma often may not. The SST (Sea Surface Temperature) of 77-78°F was low enough to eventually bring about a lowering of body core temperature to the range for mild hypothermia at 90-95°F, moderate hypothermia at 82-90°F, or even severe hypothermia at 68-82°F. Trauma suffered when the aircraft ditched in the sea could very well have contributed to a more rapid onset of hypothermia as the heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rated dropped. Under such conditions, especially in the presence of aggravated hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia, you can see heart problems become a risk for fatality.
It is untrue to say, “most of the people on board swam to the shore quite quickly.” Only one person swam to the shore, a 70 year old former Army Ranger in good physical condition, and he took about an hour to swim the mile to shore as the currents swept the survivors farther out to sea away from the crash site 400-500 yards offshore. The other seven passengers and one pilot did not swim to shore, but were transported there by helicopters.
Although aircraft arrived within the first half-hour after the crash and observed the survivors from overhead, it took more than an hour for the rescuers to arrive and begin taking the survivors out of the water.