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Man rescued on lake thought he was "a goner"


A 69-year-old man spent over 10 hours shivering in Banks Lake after his boat capsized Saturday afternoon, Oct. 1.

Donald L. Childers, of Brewster, had been fishing on Banks Lake for about an hour when wind-swept waves capsized his 13-foot fishing boat about 2:30 in the afternoon.

Childers said he thought he was going to die because he was so cold and no one was responding to his calls for help.

Childers said last Monday that when water started coming in he rushed to the front of the boat to grab his life jacket while slipping off a heavy coat he was wearing.

“I managed to hook one arm through the life jacket when a wave knocked me out of the boat,” Childers said.

Now in the water, he looked for a way out and saw some rocks about an eighth of a mile away.

“I slid the life jacket under my chest and started paddling to the rocks,” Childers explained.

When he reached the rock outcropping, Childers lay on his back resting while he tried to figure out how he was going to get help.

“I waved at other boats, but they were on the other side of the lake and didn’t see me,” Childers noted.

He remained on the rocks until it started to get dark, yelling for help.

That’s when Dale Taylor, an Electric City resident, called police and stated that he had heard a faint call for help, but from Lakeview Avenue he couldn’t tell where it was coming from.

Police Sgt. Gary Moore, stated in his report that he could hear the call for help but couldn’t locate where it was coming from because wind was carrying the sound in several directions. In the search that followed, several others also reported that they could hear someone calling for help.

It first was thought that the call for help was coming from the Pleasant Valley area.

Officer Dan Holland, who also was at the scene, determined the direction of the calls.

Childers had decided that, since it was getting dark, he needed to do something, so he slipped into the water and headed to shore.

He swam what he guessed was another one-eighth of a mile to a rocky and uneven shoreline, shivering all the way.

“I saw someone blinking his headlights and then a blue blinking light and thought then that help was on the way,” Childers said.

Moore made his way to where Childers was and then the two of them walked to where the ambulance crew was waiting.

By then, Childers said, it was almost midnight and he was really cold. After being checked out by the ambulance crew, he drove himself back to Brewster.

Childers’ son returned the next day and was able to retrieve the boat, a cooler, and his father’s hat that had floated to shore.

“I guess I will have to get a bigger boat and then return to fish,” Childers said.

“I want to thank Sgt. Moore and all the others that were responsible in rescuing me,” Childers said. “I thought I was a goner.”

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