Boaters help rescue man in chilly Percy Priest Lake - WSMV News 4

Boaters help rescue man in chilly Percy Priest Lake

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A father and son are back on dry land after their day at the lake took a dangerous turn Tuesday. The pair had stopped at an island on Percy Priest Lake when their boat started to float away.

But what happened next could have cost one of the men his life.

With choppy waters and windy conditions, it wasn't the ideal day to be fishing, but that didn't matter to fisherman Michael Armstrong.

"When you're concentrating on that lure, you don't think about nothing else in the world," Armstrong said.

But as Armstrong was trolling past the Poole Knobs Recreation Area boat ramp in La Vergne, he saw several emergency vehicles and was flagged down by rescuers.

"They had a person that possibly drowned and the rescue boat was on its way, and they were wondering if I could get them out there so they could render first aid on him," Armstrong said.

Two men - a father and son - were stranded on an island on the Mt. Juliet side of the lake. After their boat had drifted away, the 25-year-old son stripped off his clothing and jumped in the water to try and save it.

"The waters are too cold to be out there swimming," Armstrong said.

The man's father was able to get him out of the water and get his clothes back on. He then built a small fire to keep him warm.

But when Armstrong and the rescuers arrived, the situation was urgent.

"To me, he was out of it," Armstrong said. "He was shaking uncontrollably. He could hardly talk. He could hardly move."

Authorities say the man taking off his clothing may have been the thing that saved his life in the cold water.

"The clothing gets heavy, and they soak up water," Armstrong said.

Armstrong said he knows how the victim feels. A few years ago, he fell out of his boat into frigid waters.

"I turned around to answer my brother, and my pole started to fall out of the boat and I fell out of the boat into the water. It freaked my brother out because all he heard was 'splash,'" Armstrong said.

Armstrong now has a big fishing tale to share - not about the crappie he caught, but about the stranded boaters he helped rescue.

"I hope if somebody else sees something like happen, go out there and help them. It could be me," Armstrong said.

Officials have not released the identities of the father and son involved in the rescue or the condition of the 25-year-old who jumped into the water.

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