Darius Rucker Recalls Scary Moment with Pal Woody Harrelson That Made Him Think He Was 'Without a Doubt' Going to Die

Darius Rucker reveals in his new memoir 'Life's Too Short' that friend Woody Harrelson once saved him from a near-death experience

<p>Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty; Kate Green/Getty </p> Darius Rucker; Woody Harrelson

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty; Kate Green/Getty

Darius Rucker; Woody Harrelson

Darius Rucker thought his trip to visit friend Woody Harrelson in Hawaii would be a relaxing getaway — but instead, it turned into a near-death experience.

In his new memoir Life’s Too Short, the country singer recalls a scary incident in which the actor came to his rescue after he nearly drowned in a “ferocious” current.

Rucker, 58, writes that amid a break in touring in the late 1990s, he headed down to Hawaii to hang out with Harrelson for a few weeks, and they mostly spent their time doing yoga, playing chess and smoking marijuana.

At one point, the True Detective actor, 62, suggested they swim out to a small island — and warned Rucker not to get stuck in the current.

Rucker writes that he considered himself a strong swimmer, so had no issue with the request. But before long, he began to feel “disoriented,” and suddenly found himself trapped.

“I feel as if some horrific giant squid has lashed itself around my body, circling and tightening its tentacles around my legs, dragging me under the water,” he writes. “I gulp and I gasp and I keep fighting. I fight and flail for I have no idea how long — ten minutes, fifteen — and then I hear a voice. Woody.”

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<p>Dey Street Books; Jim Wright</p> Life's Too Short

Dey Street Books; Jim Wright

Life's Too Short

The “Wagon Wheel” singer wrote that Harrelson had come to help save him, but got caught in the current, too, and the pair soon started trying to tread water to stay afloat.

After 30 or so minutes, Rucker writes that everything turned white, and he saw a vision of his late mother Carolyn, who had died seven years earlier. Before long, he was seeing other pivotal moments of his life, like recording and performing songs with Hootie & the Blowfish.

“All these moments flash by in a blink and then — I’m back in the lagoon, the water swallowing me, my body caught in the vortex, the current tugging at my legs,” he writes. “I’m barely able to lift my arms. My forearms flap limply as I try to tread water, trying, trying — failing — and I look over at Woody, and I take in his face, and I know instantly, without a doubt, that I am going to die.”

Though he told Harrelson to “let me go, man,” the actor refused to give up, and told his pal, “Die? S---. Not on my watch.”

<p>Jason Kempin/Getty</p> Darius Rucker performing in October 2023.

Jason Kempin/Getty

Darius Rucker performing in October 2023.

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Eventually, their friend Kirk came to help them, and while Rucker has no memory of what happened next, he knows Harrelson pulled him out of the current, and he and Kirk dragged the singer back to the beach.

The anecdote is just one of the many stories Rucker covers in Life’s Too Short, which shines the spotlight on his rise to fame and the people and places that got him there.

“I wanted it to be like we were sitting in a bar and I was telling you my story,” Rucker told PEOPLE. “I guess not a lot of people know a lot about me. They know my music and what I do. I hope my journey pleasantly surprises people.”

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