published Sunday, November 10th, 2013

Boating accident survivors seek men who rescued them

KIMBALL, Tenn. — A couple say two young men saved their lives during the American Bass Anglers Association Couples Championship Tournament on Nickajack Lake in September.

Now Kimball officials and the two people who nearly drowned want to know the rescuers' identities.

On the final day of the fishing tournament, in a storm that brought heavy wind and rain, Charles and Janette Rodgers, of Cayce, S.C., fell overboard.

"We had problems and were unable to get back in the boat," Charles Rodgers said.

Both were wearing rain suits with bibs that began to fill with water almost immediately.

Janette Rodgers had on a life jacket, but with her water-swollen rain suit it didn't help.

"I did not have [my life jacket] on when I fell in," Charles Rodgers said.

Both began to slip underwater, and two men who were in a boat not far away raced over to help.

"They pulled their boat over to ours," Charles Rodgers said. "They jumped into our boat and let theirs drift. They pulled us both back into our boat with much difficulty from all the water in our rain suits and helped us as much as they could."

Safely back on board, the couple forgot to get the names of their "heroes."

The two rescuers did say that they lived in a small town not far from Kimball, Charles Rodgers said.

Rodgers said he and his wife were "fortunate to meet those two young men" and all of the other people they encountered while visiting Kimball.

He said he wants the men recognized for their bravery.

Mayor David Jackson said he hopes the two men will come forward.

"I think they need to be recognized for putting their own lives in jeopardy to try to save two people," he said.

The accident was unfortunate, Jackson said, but he's glad things turned out the way they did.

"It's nice to know we've got people in our community that will still give out a helping hand to complete strangers," he said.

"In spite of our accident, we enjoyed visiting Kimball and the community," Charles Rodgers said. "We hope we will have an opportunity to do so again."

If the couple does return, they said, there are two special people they'd like to thank face-to-face one more time.

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryanlewis34@gmail.com.

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