DECATUR, Ala. - Three young fishermen experienced some scary moments on the water late Saturday night in the Tennessee River.
According to the Morgan County Rescue Squad, three teenagers from Franklin, Georgia launched their boat from Ingalls Harbor to head west to participate in a bow hunting fishing tournament. Soon after they launched, though, they saw that the river was too rough and started to head back in.
Their boat capsized in the rough waters, throwing the teens and all their equipment in the water. They were able to climb on the boat and yell for help, and three hours later, it came. None of the three had life jackets on, though.
The teens had life jackets with them, but were not wearing then. "This was an eye opener for the teens. All three said they would never get in a boat without a life jacket on," according to the Morgan County Rescue Squad's statement.
Patrick Slappey and Joey Turner spotted the teenagers and took them to shore, before calling 9-1-1. The Morgan County Rescue Squad was then able to retrieve the teenager's capsized boat.
The rescuers say not wearing a life jacket is the last thing you want to forget when you're on the water. “That river can turn pretty bad in certain weather conditions. You get a lot of wind and it can get three to four foot swells out there, white caps," says Joey Turner.
Another teenager had a pair of waders on when the boat flipped. They instantly filled up with water, and he could have sunk to the bottom, but was able to grab onto a nearby floating bucket.
Once the teenagers got back to Ingalls Harbor in Decatur, Joey called 9-1-1 and the Morgan County Rescue Squad was able to retrieve the boy's boat. Patrick and Joey also got a hero's welcome from one of the teenager's parents. “The dad, as soon as he came up, he just ran up to us and shook our hand and hugged our neck," says Slappey.
They may not have won their fishing tournament, but both friends agree, just helping those guys out, was winning enough.
Patrick and Joey say they're just happy this was a rescue mission and not a recovery mission, and for good reason. Last year, they were one of the first out to help search for a drowning victim in Spring Creek. They say they're always happy to help out in these searches because it's the right thing to do.