It was pure luck a fisherman clinging to the side of his boat was heard calling for help on Sheridan Lake last Sunday, Sept. 18.
Brent Gill, general manager for the recently reopened Piney Point Resort, said a distant cry for help was heard around 5 p.m. by resort guest Graham Archer. After spotting a dot on the water, Gill went out to investigate with Archer and Don Reilly and came upon a man holding onto a small 12-foot aluminum boat.
“We could see his feet coming up on the port side of the boat and when we came around to the starboard side we found he was just hanging on with one arm,” Gill said. “He was hyperventilating and not doing well at all.”
The rescuers sprung into action to pull the man from the water. Gill said they pulled up parallel to the boat and shoved it away before he and Archer hoisted the man onto their own boat. The entire rescue was caught on a GoPro worn by one of the rescuers.
“He had zero strength left, honestly. With the water temperature being so frigid and not knowing how long he was in there he probably only had a few minutes left.”
Gill said they headed back to the resort where they stripped the man’s clothes, wrapped him in blankets and used Gill’s truck to warm him up. Once he’d recovered Gill said they took him back to his camp, which was on the opposite side of the lake at Sheridan Lake Resort.
Gill said the man, who only introduced himself as Richard, did not remember how he’d ended up in the lake. Gill said he assumes that because of the boat’s narrow profile and the fact engine wasn’t running it’s likely Richard lost his balance looking over the edge.
“He went over and the cold water shock disabled him from being able to crawl onto his boat,” Gill said.
The part of the incident Gill keeps coming back to is how lucky Richard was. The cry for help was faint and if anyone had been playing music, running a chainsaw or even idling their truck, he’s doubtful Archer would have heard him.
As a resort manager Gill said this should reinforce for everyone how important wearing life jackets and safety whistles are while boating on any lake. It’s easy to get complacent but he said being prepared can make all the difference in an emergency.
“In the summer the water temperature is really warm on some of these lakes but in the fall we start getting subzero evenings and the water temperatures drop drastically and it’s no joke when someone goes is,” Gill said.