Two boys were swept away by floodwater in Lake Eufaula on Wednesday afternoon. They were carried close to half a mile in flood current, neither one wearing a life jacket.
In an exclusive story, we ride along with an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper whose rescue mission was dashed by high water at the bridge, but another trooper was able to give the kids a life line.
The boys found a piece of styrofoam that had washed into their neighborhood with flood waters and said they thought it would be fun to take their new toy out into the lake, but after a scary situation that could have turned tragic, they might be staying ashore from now on and counting their blessings.
“Probably not gonna go out for a while,” 12-year-old Joseph Cody said.
The lake water has Cody and his 13-year-old brother in some hot water.
“Probably grounded and get spanked,” Cody said.
He was still shaking as he realized what could have happened.
“We could have drowned,” he said.
The two boys were playing on a piece of styrofoam when floodwater quickly carried it, and them, into the middle of the Lake Eufaula. The current was so strong they couldn't get back the bank. A woman who lives on the lake saw them and called 911.
“The whole time she was watching they were waving their arms screaming for help,” said.
Miles away, trooper Jeremy Tolman got the call to help, but the marina where he docks his lake patrol boat was underwater.
“I can make it from where I'm standing to get to the marina,” Tolman said in the moment.
He had his gun belt off and life jacket in hand... ready to swim across.
"It's all costs; it's what you gotta do,” he said.
The marina sent in a boat to give him a ride. The ride to rescue spot was choppy... and cut short.
The water at the Highway 69 railroad bridge was so high, the boat couldn't go under.
OHP Trooper Trey Downum was on the other side, though, looking for the boys in a boat he'd borrowed from a friend.
“They were a long ways from home,” Downum said.
The boys were in the water for about three hours and drifted close to half a mile out into the lake. They were being pushed toward the shore when Downum pulled them to safety.
“Water's something that deserves great respect,” Downum said. “With the water being as high as it is, there's barbed wire fences under the water that you can't see, there's trees under there that normally aren't there that you could get tangled up in.”
Joseph Cody said the lake taught him a lesson.
“Don't go out when the water's flooded and when the what's it called's open, like for the dam,” Cody said.
“And never get that far out in the lake without an adult around and with no life jacket on,” Trooper Downum added.
Still, Cody says he's in for an even bigger lesson from mom and his older sister, Charity Hayes, agrees.
“Kids don't need to do stupid stuff like that, I mean they don't think the lake is dangerous and it is, it's very dangerous,” Hayes said. “We're gonna have a long conversation right now...they could have drowned, they could be gone.”
“Luckily they're here to be able to get into trouble, as bad as that is may be to say,” Downum said.
Troopers are asking people to let the floodwater go down before swimming or boating in the lake or nearby rivers.