Monday, July 4, 2011

New Albany man drowns at Pickwick saving life of another

    Jinny, Lucy and I were the guests of some friends at Pickwick this weekend. We had a great time on the lake, but were witness to a family's terrible tragedy before we left.
    A New Albany businessman apparently drowned while saving the life of an older man who was struggling in water which had suddenly turned very choppy due to the threat of a storm. I use the word "apparently," as the man's body has not been found; until then there is a sliver of hope that he might somehow be alive. As some of his own family does not know about the accident, I'll not use his name, either. His wife and son were in the boat with him.
    Probably the most dangerous thing a person can do is to try to save a person from drowning. Boy Scouting teaches the reach-throw-row-go rule when it comes to helping someone who might be drowning. Certainly jumping in to save another person should only be done as a last resort -- and perhaps it was in this case.
    A lot of us were reminded that while boating and the water can be lot of fun, they can also be deadly. Being on the water demands every safety precaution. In this case, the apparent drowning victim reportedly swam out and gave his life vest to the older man who was struggling. Somehow he didn't make it back to his boat.
    My heart goes out to this family. After witnessing their grief, I doubt any of the children present will object to wearing life vests in the future. To my friends I would add that before attempting to help others, make sure you've safeguarded your own life as well.
    Be safe, and keep this family in your prayers.

Update, 10 a.m., Wednesday, July 6
    WTVA reports that authorities have recovered the body of Robbie Hale, age 46. The story can be found here: Authorities locate body of missing man. A family friend said Mr. Hale was the Farm Bureau agent for New Albany.
    A bit of explanation as to what I believe happened. A family had stopped their pontoon boat and gone swimming. The water at Pickwick was as smooth as glass and there was no wind. No one remained on the pontoon boat. A very sudden storm came up and blew the boat away, stranding the swimmers in water that was suddenly almost as choppy as the ocean.
    Mr. and Mrs. Hale and their son pulled the group out of the water, and Mr. Hale reportedly jumped in and gave his life vest to an older man who was struggling. After this, he apparently drowned.

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