LANGLEY, Okla. - Quick action by two duck hunters helped save the lives of other hunters on the waters of Grand Lake Saturday morning, according to the Grand River Dam Authority Police Department.
Harvey Erwin of Claremore and Josh Pridemore of Tulsa were hunting near Rabbit Island, in the Horse Creek arm of the lake around 5:30 a.m. when their boat, a 16-foot flat bottom, capsized, sending them both into the water, GRDA police said.
Curtis Tate and Winston Connor both of Grove, along with Tate’s children, were in a boat near Rabbit Island when they heard Erwin and Pridemore calling for help, GRDA police said.
Connor and Tate went to investigate and found Erwin in the water, clinging to the side of the boat. Pridemore had been able to make it to the shore.
"As soon as his feet hit the ground, he stood up, he was wobbly and he flopped in the boat. His will was impressive," Tate said.
According to a GRDA Police report, Connor and Tate attempted to pull Erwin from the water. However, due to his size and, because he had been in the water so long, his legs would not move. Instead, they held his torso next to their boat until they reached the shore where Pridemore was located. After helping Erwin into the boat there in shallow water, they took both men to a nearby ramp.
Both refused treatment at the scene and are expected to make a full recovery.
“Had it not been for Mr. Connor's and Mr. Tate's efforts, this would have surely been a tragedy,” said GRDA Police Officer Tyler Brown, who responded to the incident. “The water depth was 10 to 12 feet in that area, the water temperature was 41 degrees and the air temperature was 15 degrees.”
"Both of us, we've talked about this a lot, are having a hard time understanding this hero concept because we didn't put out life or limb at liberty. We didn't do anything anybody else wouldn't have done. There's somebody in 41 degree water and they're going to die if you don't take them out. What else can you do?," Connor said.
Brown also said this incident is a reminder of the special challenges that often come with winter boating.
“Heavy winter clothing can weigh you down quickly if you go into the water. Typically, you can’t move as freely as you could in lighter clothing and obviously the cold waters can be a shock to your system.”
Wearing a life jacket and letting others know where you plan to be boating are precautions that should be taken anytime you are on the lake, added Brown.
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