The Grand River Dam Authority Police Department is reporting that quick action by two duck hunters helped save the lives of other hunters on the frigid waters of Grand Lake Saturday morning.
Harvey Erwin, of Claremore, and Josh Pridemore, of Tulsa, were hunting near Rabbit Island, in the Horse Creek arm of the lake at approximately 7 a.m. Their boat, a 16-foot flat bottom, capsized and sent them both into the water.
According to GRDA, Curtiss Tate and Winston Connor, both of Grove, along with Tate's children, were also in a boat near Rabbit Island. When they heard Erwin and Pridemore calling for help, 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.
According to a GRDA Police report, Connor and Tate attempted to pull Erwin from the water. 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, GRDA said.
"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. "The water depth was 10 to 12 feet in that area, the water temperature was 41 degrees and the air temperature was 15 degrees."
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, Brown said.