Posted by POLAR 2310 on March 13, 2005 at 21:18:40:
DOUBLE SPRINGS, Ala. (AP) — A 50-year-old fisherman drowned and his son was injured when they were thrown from their boat when a steering cable broke during a local bass tournament at Smith Lake.
Alabama Marine Police Sgt. Tommy Cagle said Ricky Dee Lewis, 50, drowned and his son, Shawn Lewis, 31, both of Double Springs, was hospitalized for hypothermia after the accident about 6:30 a.m. Saturday near the Houston Recreational Area.
"They had only gotten about a quarter of a mile down the lake, when the steering cable on their boat broke, causing the boat to do a sharp 90-degree turn, throwing both men overboard," Cagle said.
The 17-foot Pro Craft had a 150hp Mercury engine, Cagle said.
Two other men in the tournament noticed the Lewis' boat spinning in circles.
"They saw the father and son in the water about 20 yards apart," Cagle told The Daily Mountain Eagle. . "They quickly pulled the son aboard their boat and then proceeded over to help the father.
"By the time they arrived, the father had already gone under and they had to reach down as far as they could to pull him back up."
Cagle said the two fishermen pulled the father onto their boat and called 911. The elder Lewis was pronounced dead at Lakeland Hospital in Haleyville.
Cagle said Lewis was wearing heavy insulated coveralls and boots, which may have prevented him from swimming.
"If it hadn't been for the quick thinking and actions of the other two fishermen we could have had two fatalities instead of one," Cagle said. "I credit them with saving the life of Shawn Lewis."
The rescuers, John Tidwell and Mike Aldridge, also of Double Springs, belonged to the same fishing club as the Lewises.
Cagle said it was the first boating fatality on Smith Lake this year.
"But it's still early in the boating season," he said, urging boaters to check their boats thoroughly before taking them out. "They also need to remember to wear their kill switch and life preservers at all times while the boat is in operation on the lake."
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