(Editor’s Note: This story was submitted by a grateful wife thanking three Sardis residents who came to her husband’s aid after a hunting accident near Askew earlier this month.)
On January 5, my husband Robert Bourland and stepson, Garland Bourland, were planning to duck hunt on a lake near Askew.
They loaded their equipment into the boat and were motoring out to the duck hole when they hit a stump. The boat started taking water, quickly sinking in frigid water.
Both men were wearing hip waders, and heavy clothing, when they entered the water almost 70 to 80 yards from the bank.
As soon as they entered the water, Garland knew immediately that he had to get to the bank, and leave to find help to get his father out of the water.
Garland, although obviously younger than his father, is on kidney dialysis and not in the best health.
He was able to swim to the bank while wearing his waders filled with water. Shucking his waders, Garland left barefooted on a four wheeler – headed in the direction where he had heard shots from other hunters earlier in the morning. He knew he would need help to get his father to the bank.
He found three hunters, Mason Conley, Decker Conley and Daniel Sanford.
Garland quickly explained the situation – his dad was in the water and needed help.
The three Sardis residents jumped on the back of the four wheeler, and raced back to help get Robert out of the water.
Assessing the situation, Mason and Daniel felt they could not wait for help from a rescue squad, and started to swim out to Robert, realizing that due to the water being so cold that they would probably start cramping in their legs, and not be able to get to him..
Bobbing in the water, Mason had swam just about has far as he could go when he spotted a rotten log floating in the water.
Bobbing in the water, Mason saw a rotten log floating in the water, grabbed it and floated the log to Robert.
Meanwhile Garland, Daniel, Decker rode the four-wheeler back to get Daniel’s truck. Decker called the Corps of Engineers for help.
Daniel also knew where there were other hunters in the area, and went to get them for extra help to get in the rescue attempt.
By this time Mason had gotten Robert back to the bank and out of the water. Robert was unconscious by this time, and hypothermia has already set in.
Several other hunters arrived and the rescuers helped load Robert into Daniel’s truck.
They rushed to a little country store, just over a mile from the accident scene. Robert was loaded into a helicopter and airlifted to the Regional Medical Center.
By the time he was rescued, his breathing had become so sporadic that he was placed on a ventilator.
His body’s core temperature had dropped to 86.1 degrees. The doctors in the emergency room went to work immediately on warming him.
Later that evening, doctors took him off the ventilator and his temperature was stabilized. He remained in the hospital for three days after the accident.
Garland was also hospitalized as a precautionary measure for several days after the accident.
We believe God had placed these people at the right time and place to help save Robert and Garland. We feel that it was a miracle that these two young men (and all the others who helped) were God’s instruments that he used to perform this miracle.
We feel these young men should be commended for their bravery and help. They did not hesitate in their actions – they knew immediately what to do and did it. They are our Heroes!!!
Thank You, Shelby (wife), Robert and Garland Bourland