Hunters rescue men from frigid Grand Lake waters
BY AMANDA BLAND World Staff Writer
Saturday, December 29, 2012
12/29/12 at 5:06 PM
LANGLEY — Two duck hunters on a “maiden voyage” in a new boat rescued two men whose boat capsized in 41-degree water temperatures on Grand Lake early Saturday.
Miami, Okla., attorney Winston Connor and business owner Curtis Tate, both of Grove, set out with Tate’s sons in Connor’s new boat around 5 a.m., Conner told the Tulsa World.
“While we were setting up, we heard some voices and it just didn’t sound right. So we jumped in the boat instead of hunting and drove around,” he said.
The men left Tate’s sons on shore and located Josh Pridemore of Tulsa on Rabbit Island partially disrobed and attempting to cover himself with leaves.
Pridemore told Connor and Tate his friend — Harvey Erwin, 24, of Claremore — was still in the water and the men continued their search.
Connor said the men used a spotlight and were fortunate to have a quiet engine that made it easy to hear Erwin’s calls for help.
“(He) was kind of barely holding on to a corner of the submerged boat and a blue seat cushion” and had loss the use of his lower extremities, Connor said.
Connor and Tate attempted to pull Erwin into their boat but were unsuccessful. Tate held onto Erwin and did his best to keep him alert as Connor navigated back to shore.
“I said, ‘Don’t go to sleep’ ... and he said he had a wife and a kid to live for,” Tate said. “I know he wouldn’t have lasted too much longer out there. It was a bitter cold morning out there for a swim.”
The men took Pridemore and Erwin to their truck, where they kept warm until emergency responders arrived. Connor estimated Erwin had been in the water for about 40 minutes.
“It was kind of an odd maiden voyage,” Connor said.
Grand River Dam Authority police lauded Connor and Tate in a news release Saturday.
“Had it not been for Mr. Connor’s and Mr. Tate’s efforts, this would have surely been a tragedy,” said 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.”
GRDA authorities urged hunters and recreational boaters to wear life jackets and let others know where they plan to be in and around the lake.
Tate encouraged duck hunters not to overload their boats.
“It feels so good that we went over there,” he said. “I don’t think it’s anything anybody else wouldn’t have done.”
Quick action by duck hunters Winston Connor and Curtis Tate, both of Grove, saved Josh Pridemore of Tulsa and Harvey Erwin of Claremore after their 16-foot flat-bottom boat capsized in 41-degree waters near Rabbit Island early Saturday, Dec. 29, police said. Photo courtesy of Winston Connor.