James Ledet was sitting on the front of the center console of a pristine 32-foot Yellowfin cruising at 45 mph. The next thing he knew he was in a hospital wondering what happened and why he was there, only to be told that he was pummeled in the jaw by a fish flying through the air at 50 mph.

Ledet would have been more likely to have won the lottery or get struck by lightning that day.

"We were just cruising around the (South Timbalier) 151 block and I was sitting on the gunwale; then all of a sudden, I heard WABLAM," said Heath Matherne, a long-time fishing buddy of Ledet's. "I turned around and noticed that James was on the deck.

"I had no clue what happened to him; my first thought was that he had a heart attack, but then I saw the fish and the blood all over the windshield."

The 48-pound king mackerel died upon impact: Doctors later estimated that Ledet was hit in the head by 1,250 pounds of force.

"Then blood started running out of his ears and the split in his head, so I just wrapped his head with a shirt and we ran to a rig to the north," Matherne said. "There was no hesitation."

The boat's crew reached the Chevron rig on the northern side of block 151, just as a transport helicopter was lifting off.

"We pulled up to the rig full speed, and the helicopter was already in the air," Matherne explained. "I just waved frantically at some guys on the platform and they called the helicopter back and two medics came down to the boat to check him out.

"The helicopter dropped a basket down, and they lifted him up."

Ledet actually stopped breathing for a few minutes before the Chevron medics helped stabilize him. He was unconscious the entire time. He was flown to Ochsner Hospital in New Orleans, where he was treated in the trauma room for eight hours.

"I was coming in and out (of consciousness) at the hospital, but I could never really put two and two together about why I was there," Ledet said.

Ledet suffered a severe concussion, lacerated liver, bruised spleen and torn ACL, and had to receive stitches on the side of his forehead.

Ledet's wife, Crystal, rushed to the hospital and spent two days with her husband as he recovered from a severe concussion.

"They called me and said that James had been hit by a fish. I didn't really know what that meant," Crystal Ledet said. "Then they said he was being transferred to Ochsner, and I knew it was serious. They told me that if his head would not have hit the pole (on the boat) he probably would have broken his neck.

"One of the doctors said that it is more likely to win the lottery than to be hit by a fish in a moving boat."