The hands-down scariest incident in Below Deck history occurred in Tuesday night's episode when we witnessed what happened when Ashton Pienaar went overboard. After the deckhand stepped on the line to tow the tender, the line quickly wrapped around his ankle and dragged him off the yacht and into the water.
Lucky for Ashton, one of the cameramen, Brent, immediately put his camera down and helped get the line loose so that the deckhand was free and could swim to the tender for safety. If Brent hadn't been there, when the line tightened, it would have severed Ashton's foot, and he would have bled out to the point of death before anyone could have reached him in the water, Captain Lee Rosbach explained during the episode.
Understandably, just thinking about the whole ordeal is somewhat still emotional for Ashton, especially after seeing a preview for the episode. "I will say I felt like I completely dealt with it, but when I saw the clip being played again as a teaser I got chilled again, and it kind of took me back to that situation, so I think it’s going to be tough to watch. The situation itself was tough. It was very real," Ashton told The Daily Dish in advance of the episode airing. "In terms of prepping to see it, I don’t know, I’m actually quite interested to see how everything panned out from the camera’s point-of-view, because, obviously, I was in the water and I was on that end of the deal, so it’ll be interesting to watch it."
Ever since we got to see a glimpse of the overboard accident in the trailer for Season 6 of Below Deck, Ashton said that fans have been following him on Instagram just to see if he's still alive. Media coverage has also tried to answer the question of whether or not Ashton passed away before the episode aired this season. "I think headlines like that sum up the situation. It could have been fatal, and I think that’s what makes it such a big deal. It could have easily gone the worst way possible," Ashton said. "It was a serious thing, and it was hard to go through. But I’m glad it happened, and I hope that people can learn from it and make sure that they’re never in that situation."
Ashton said that he even got himself mentally prepared for the worst-case scenario while he was in the water: death. "I was a second away from dying, and I knew that in the water. I had mentally prepared myself for my foot to be ripped off. I thought that was what was going to happen," he said. "It was hard to go through. It was intense."
The other miraculous moment was when, after all of that, Ashton actually got on the tender and drove it to the yacht without any sort of rest or hesitation. After limping off the tender and onto the boat, Ashton was visibly shaken up as he recovered in his room. Though he was in pain with his ankle injury, a doctor told the deckhand that it was not broken and he just needed to keep it iced while he took some time off from the charter to rest and recuperate.
Ashton reflected on where he got the strength and courage to continue with the charter season after such a harrowing experience. "I don’t know, I think I’m just strong-willed that way. For me, it frustrated me more than anything that I wasn’t able to keep going and carry on. It ate me [up] inside that they were all working and I was lying in my bed not contributing to that charter. I think it’s just naturally my personality. I just want to get up and keep going. I don’t want to let things like that hold me back or get me down. I kind of deal with it as quick as I can and just get up and keep going... I never felt like I didn’t want to carry on," he said. "I never felt like because this had happened I might need to consider not doing the rest of the season, it was opposite. I just wanted to get better as quick as I could be back on the team and back working and operating."
Amazingly, Ashton said that he has fully recovered from the accident, both physically and mentally. "I’m good, I’m perfectly fine. I had restrictions in the movement of my ankle because obviously there was a lot of scar tissue buildup in the joints, but I think I’m back to 100 percent. The mobility in my ankle is back to 100 percent," he shared. "Emotionally, I think I’ve dealt with it. I don’t feel like the situation haunts me or anything like that. I think I’ve kind of looked at the situation from more angles and I’m just more appreciative of the outcome of it. I’m good. Physically, I’m good, mentally, I’m good."
See Ashton and the rest of the M/Y Seanna crew open up more about the overboard accident in the Below Deck After Show, above. Relive the scary moment, below.