Fishing Accident Saturday Night Leaves One Dead

By: Dara Rees Email
By: Dara Rees Email

A night of fishing for three men turned tragic with one man ending up dead.

Witness Rosa Couch says, “My mom called and said that there were some guys at her house asking for help that someone had drowned.”

Around 7:15 Saturday night near the Leatherwood Dock, the mens' small fishing boat took on water leaving all three men overboard. The two surviving boaters pulled 52 year old Gary Sawyer to land.

“They tried really hard to revive him. They got him out of the water and pulled him up on that bank and did CPR for about 20 minutes. They were unable to revive him,” said Couch.

Witnesses say the boat was only about 20 yards into the water before trouble began. Most believe the reason the boat went down is because the three men exceeded the small boat's weight limit.

“It was clearly overloaded there were three adult males in a 12 foot jim-boat. And one of the males would go at least 100 pounds,” says Couch

Witnesses say the men tried to drive for help, but their truck would not start. They then ran over a mile to the closest house asking for help. Witnesses say the men arrived short of breath, cold, and soaking wet.

Another witness, John Salley, says, “the other two people that were in the water were actually very cold and we came and got them some blankets.”

Greg Watts of the Fish and Wildlife Commission says life jackets were on the boat, but non were worn at the time of the accident.

“They didn't have life jackets in use. A life jacket would have saved him. It's just one of those things when you get around the water you need to have a life jacket,” says Salley.

Gary Sawyer was pronounced dead at the scene.

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