Bachelor in Paradise‘s Brayden Bowers is getting real about the boat accident that almost killed him — and the romantic “wakeup call” that followed.

Bowers, 34, was joined by girlfriend and fellow Bachelor Nation star Christina Mandrell, 28, on “The Dave Neal Show” on Saturday, February 10, where he opened up about a fishing trip gone wrong. At the time, Bowers and Mandrell were still in the early stages of their relationship. “She was my first call,” Bowers said of Mandrell, who was a contestant on Season 27 of The Bachelor.

“That was when I asked her to be my girlfriend,” Bowers said. “So, [September 18, 2023] is when I asked her to be my girlfriend. I was just like, ‘Hey, this put a lot of things in perspective for me. Life is short. I mean, you could die tomorrow in a boating incident and, you know, you can’t do anything about it so why waste time anymore?’”

Bowers continued, “One of the biggest things I feel like we do is we follow these social norms of, ‘OK, we should be boyfriend and girlfriend for this long, or we should talk for this long. Or we need to do this for this long before we really take that next step to make sure we don’t have any doubts.’ And I think it was just in that moment I was like, ‘I love this girl. I’ve never told her I love her, and I am about to die right now and I never said it.’ That was probably the biggest wakeup call for me.”

Bowers concluded his story with this sentiment: “If you really love something, then you need to put yourself out there and be vulnerable and not feel like you need to follow these timelines that people make up.”

In September 2023, Bowers and Bachelorette star Aaron Schwartzman were among five men stranded on a sinking fishing boat for more than three hours. According to Bowers in a September interview, one of the group’s fishing lines had gotten tangled in the engine’s propeller about 20 miles off the coast of San Diego.

When Schwartzman stood in an attempt to lift the engine and untangle the line, Bowers told Fox 5 that “the boat literally just sunk.” After hours out on the water with no service, the group was eventually rescued by another fishing boat that happened to be passing by.

With the near-death experience in the rearview mirror, Bowers and Mandrell have since taken their relationship to the next level. During The Golden Wedding on January 4, Bowers got down on one knee and proposed to Mandrell in a surprise engagement (with The Golden Bachelor star Gerry Turner’s blessing, of course).

“For the first time in my life, I feel like I found someone that I can be myself with unapologetically,” Bowers said to Mandrell in his proposal. “And I have no doubts that I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”

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