A near tragedy for our family
Aug 31, 2009
|We're gonna let our son Paul tell you this story, get your kleenx out and read the whole amazing story. This amazing story involves, Paul, our son; Jenna, our daughter in law; Brent, our grandson; Gina, longtime girlfriend of our son Kent. All the while this story is taking shape, Kent is across the lake watching/playing with Kyle, Paul/Jenna's other son, and the "Twins" Jenna's nephews. They not knowing til much later in the day the dangers being faced by Paul, Jenna, Brent and Gina.
My family and I were taking a weekend trip to Pyramid Lake this last weekend. Saturday was great we stayed mainly by the dock just swimming around and having fun. Sunday my brother drove across the east side of the to the Pyramid where we set up a day camp, I drove the boat across the lake. we were doing our thing having fun until about 2:30 pm that’s when the wind started to pick up which means its time to pack up and get across the lake before it gets too bad. That was our big mistake we did not leave immediately we were hoping it would subside like it sometimes does. At 3:15 it was getting so bad we could not get to shore to drop off the baby. That was another mistake. I felt the waves were crashing too hard and felt it would beach the boat.
My wife and I my 2year old son and our friend Gina started across the lake after about 4 miles out the swells reached 4 feet. My other deep v style boats would have been ok. This boat just did not have enough clearance to stop the waves. I tried different angles into the waves but the damn waves kept spilling over the bow 20-40 gallons at a time. At a 45` angle the waves would crash sideways over the bow and heading straight into the wave it would come over the front. The bilge was working but could not keep up.
4 miles out I stopped to get the vhf radio as I was doing that a big wave just crashed over the front and literally filled the bow. The water was not draining to the bilge. A towel was in the bow and it was clogging the drain hole that sends the water from the bow to the bilge. At this point the bow was about maybe 3-4" above water. When I removed the towel almost all the water in the bow drained to the bilge. Which caused the stern to sink too the top of the sun pad. I was literally looking at my sun pad under water by 2" the engine was still running so I tried too give all she had heading back to where we came from. It was not working it just bogged the engine and lifted the bow up in turn sinking the stern even more. That was it reality set in.
I turned on the handheld vhf, low battery!!! I had just charged the doggone thing on Friday. I reached for the damn cigarette charger plugged it in. Too late. In one motion the engine went under the bow rose to vertical. As the boat sank the ski/wakeboard tower took me down about 15' I broke free of it and surfaced just in time too see the last 5' of bow going under. My wife had the baby, Gina was there and floating debris was everywhere. The first thing I saw floating was the front bench style seat so Jenna grabbed it and put Brent, our two year old on it. That thing saved my sons life along with my wife Jenna.
We all huddled together floating with our life jackets on in complete shock. 3:45 pm about 3-4miles from where we came from and another 5-6 mile to the dock where we wanted to go. We started swimming toward the pyramid. That’s where the wind was blowing. Jenna was balancing Brent on the bench seat trying her best to shield him from the waves that would sometimes crash over us. Twenty minutes in it just seemed like we were not making headway and my sons lips were turning purple and the screams he made will haunt me for along time. I felt I needed to swim on my own as I am a very strong swimmer, so the hardest thing I did was leave them to start for shore. As I heard my sons’ cries fading I prayed.
2-1/2 hours later I was about 300 yards from shore where there was a fire truck an ambulance and 5 vehicles. I thought THIS IS GREAT my brother must have been waiting at the dock for so long he called for help. Just as that thought entered my head the fire truck, ambulance, and 3 vehicles took off on the dirt road. It sunk in again that there was no help nobody looking for us and my 2-year-old baby and my wife and friend were on our one. There were two vehicles left on shore (an old blazer and a van). I saw a guy and girl standing by the shore, I never yelled so loud in my life. But they just couldn't hear me. 5 minutes more of swimming I saw the couple turn around and walk to there van. I waited to crest a big swell and yelled with everything I had. They stopped and turned around.
They stood there shielding there eyes to see where the scream was coming from again and again I screamed and waved my arms wildly. They just couldn't see me. About 30 yards a head to my right was a fella swimming and said, " I thought I heard someone, what happened". I yelled at him "to go call search and rescue" " my boat has sunk and my 2 year old son, wife and friend are still out there" "WE NEED HELP!!" he yelled to his friend on shore to get help and he started walking to his car. That really pissed me off that he was walking while my family may be drowning or hypothermia, so I yelled "HURRY UP, RUN , WE NEED HELP" he heard me and started running, which meant I was almost to shore maybe 50 yards out.
I finally felt sand under my feet. The waves were throwing me around making me fall. My legs felt as if they would collapse. On shore now I took of my life jacket and looked for the others. Nothing I did not see anything , the sun was right in my eyes as I scanned the water. Jenna told me later that she saw me and was screaming. The guy that relayed the message said his friend was going for help.
Standing on shore I got a tremendous feeling of guilt leaving my wife and baby alone. I had images in my head of Brent turning cold and blue in my wife’s arms.
Hell with this I am going to find them, got my life jacket and headed out again. About 20 minutes in I turned to shore and saw police. Supposedly he was on his intercom loud speaker yelling for me to come back, I heard nothing. I finally reached the pyramid rock formation and saw nothing. Yelling Screaming crying and praying there was no answer no Jenna no Brent and no Gina. I really went to a dark place and started imagining the worst.
I crested a swell and I saw flashing red lights. YES it is a rescue boat coming about 400 yards out. Heading right for me I waved my arms. He waved Back holy shit he sees me. Pulling along side me he through a buoy. Grabbed the buoy got on board. NO JENNA NO BRENT NO GINA. I said " My 2 year old is still out there. WHY ARE YOU HEADING TOWARD SHORE" "TURN AROUND WE NEED TO FIND THEM NOW!!!!!" It was strange cause they kind of were ignoring me, but 2 seconds later the squelch over the radio said "we found some one" found who which one did you find?
As the boat pulled up toward shore I saw Gina laying on the beach as if she crawled on shore and collapsed. Someone was over her helping. Great "you made it Gina " I said. "Where is my wife and son" I asked the guy helping Gina. He said there are 2 more up behind those rocks. YES . I had a sprung my ankle before the boat sank and the pain finally hit me as I limped up the beach a police officer was coming " where is my wife and son" he asked "were you on the boat, how many people were on board" Kind of annoyed I told him then said” now where is my son" " up there on the truck bed"
Seeing Jenna and Brent covered with a blanket was a relief I cannot put into words. Brent had goose bumps and a haze in his little eyes and quivering lips. I broke down and cried uncontrollably.
We are all alive and doing well. Although my wife and I could not sleep. We both had the same horrific images of water filling the boat and the boat going bow up and sinking in 200' of water.
Looking back I should have taught Jenna how to use the VHF radio. Actually there is allot of regrets but it turned out the way it did.
I feel allot better just writing about my experience. I hope I can sleep tonight...