Hunting Trip Turns Tragic as One Drowns and Another Is Rescued From Lewiston Lake

Canoe firearm

[Stock image from Canstockphoto]

A tragic accident claimed the life of a twenty-two-year-old Anderson man who drowned in Lewiston Lake, said Elissa Penn, a passerby who helped save his twenty-two-year-old friend also of Anderson.

Penn, age 17, said she was hunting with her parents about 8 a.m. Sunday when, as they were driving, they spotted something wrong with a duck blind in Lewiston Lake. “My dad started slowing down,” she explained. “Something didn’t look right. Stuff was scattered around and stuff was floating.”

Her mother heard someone calling for help and the family stopped. They soon saw something moving in the water. It was a man. “We could only see his head and the tip of the boat,” Penn explained.

She called 911 asking for help. Meanwhile, her father raced up the road hoping to find a boat at the marina. Luckily, he found two hunters in a boat and got them to head to the scene of the accident.

Penn said she kept talking to the man who was almost completely immersed out in the cold water of Lewiston Lake. “I asked him his first and last name,” she said. He gave it to her and also told her he had watched as his friend drowned.

As they waited for help and talked, the young man was floating away from her. “He was floating the other direction,” Penn said choking up.  She tried to persuade him to float on his back. But, she explained. “[H]e was so cramped up, he couldn’t float.”

She said he told her, “I can’t do it. I can’t do it. I’m going under.” She added, “He was saying hurry because he wasn’t able to hang on.” As she watched in horror, he kept getting farther away. “Only his head was up,” she described quietly. “The boat was sinking and his head was bobbing.”

She tried to remain calm. “I was trying to keep it together so he would keep it together,” she said.

Two hunters, Nick Watkins and Jason Jurin, arrived in a boat. Penn said they managed to haul the drowning man aboard. After they got him into the boat, they brought him to the shore, Penn said.

“He was cramped up in the fetal position,” she explained. She and her family waded into the water to unload him. “We had waders on,” she said. “The water was maybe waist high on me…We grabbed him and loaded him into our truck that was warm already.”

As they were loading him up, Penn said their local fire department arrived. First, the crew cut off most of his clothes and wrapped him in foil blankets. “We put him in the truck where it was warm,” she said. “We blasted the heater. I wrapped my body around his feet. My mom was just holding him.”

Penn said the young man only sometimes made sense. “First he said he was hot and then he said he was cold,” she explained. “He was shaking and asking, ‘Am I dead? Am I dying? He was in and out of it.” She said he gave her his mother’s number and “[h]e gave me the name of his friend that passed away.”

It took about 10 minutes after he was in the truck until the ambulance showed up, according to Penn. “They got him into a stretcher and wrapped him up,” she said. The ambulance took him to the hospital. He later told her that “his body was 84 degrees when they got him to the hospital.”

She said the young man also told her some of how he and his friend had gotten into trouble and she pieced some other parts together from overhearing the Sheriff’s deputies talk.

“From the pieces I heard,” she said. “[The two] were sitting in the canoe. They shot at ducks. The shotgun kicked and tipped the boat over. When it tipped over, it threw them both out.”

Penn said the man who was later rescued managed to get out of his waders. They both managed to get to the boat but couldn’t get back in.

She said the man they rescued estimated he was in the water 25 to 35 minutes before her family showed up. She said that both the hunters with the boat and her family had heard shots that fit that time frame.

“From what I gathered,” she said, “his buddy was trying hang on with him but couldn’t. He watched his friend sink down.” She said, this evening when she talked again to the rescued man, when he told her that “we both started crying.”

She said that she and her family stayed at the lake for about another hour while body recovery operations were underway. “We stayed there until they found the body,” she said.

Once she got home, she tried to track down the families of the two young men. “I had their names and I searched them up on Instagram,” she explained. “I reached out to mutual friends [and told them what happened.]”

Penn said she was shaken up by the experience “and I can’t even compare that to what the family has to deal with.” Then she added quietly, “I’m just glad we saved one person.”




  • People have no idea how unstable a canoe is. My friend and I almost ended up just like this when we went duck hunting in a canoe. Erie how similar this event was. Hope family and friends can find some peace in this terrible time.

    • 12 ga shotguns with magnum loads hmmmm one would think a canoe is not a safe vessel to hunt from.

      • You are completely correct. Canoes can tip over if you just lean to one side. A flat bottom small boat is much better. I fish that lake every summer and will not forget the young man who lost his life having fun duck hunting. My very best to his family and friends. RIP young man, and shoot some for me in heaven.

    • Some canoes are unstable. Theirs has a low wall. Some of the older ones with a higher wall and wide bottom are a lot safer. I have one that scares the crap out of me. This is it. I’m getting rid of it this spring.

  • I am beyond impressed with this young woman – she affirms my belief that it is her generation that will save the world. Sending condolences to the family of the man that drowned. And may the man who survived have a quick recovery.

  • Most likely they would have been okay without the waders. Something to be learned from. RIP

    • The young man that drown didn’t have waders on, they were still in the back of his truck. The surviver had waders on but was able to get them off in the water.

    • Try life vests. People don’t think shit like this won’t happen to them. But it does happen unfortunately. They should be worn in a boat at all times. He may of cramped up and got hypothermia but he wouldn’t have drowned. This is a tragedy be on words.

  • This is so incredibly sad. My heart goes out to the young man who survived and the families. To lose a friend like that is unimaginable. Thankful for good samaritans being there to lend a helping hand.

    It should be made known that the water in Lewiston Lake is frigid, in the middle of August. It’s water comes out of the bottom of Trinity Lake. The river is very cold below the dam too, all the way down past Douglas City (in the summer). So cold it hurts to the bone. Even if you are a strong swimmer, the hypothermic effects on the body are beyond our control. It’s very serious, as this incident has proven. Life vests are crucial! Please wear them.

  • unbridled philistine

    Chest waders are very dangerous! Always wear a belt around the outside to keep from filling with water.. Sorry such a sad way to go.

  • Quick disconnec5 safety waders are the key, never ever wear waders on a boat, kayak or canoe. Do not wear over coats over waders if fly fishing. Always wear lifevests especially of boating cold waters. Always use paddle leashes to avoid losing your paddles. Keep a cell phone in a couple ziplock bags in your dry pack connected with a rope to you boat. Always wear a helmet of river kayaking. These are some safety tips I have to share from my 35 years experience on the water kayaking and fishing.

    • Excellent tips and wisdom.. Such a sad story when a life is lost.
      Praying for the grieving families and friends. 💜✝️

  • No life jackets!?

  • Forty-some years ago two brothers were lost together up at Stone Lagoon, while out on a boat with waders on, and no life vests.

    We don’t survive long without air, and those waders will very quickly take you to a place where there is none.

    Think before you boat.

    • Thank you. This one hurt my heart. Maybe because I have two sons in their twenties. One of them hunts.

      • My son lost one of his hunting buddies in a duck hunting boating accident a couple of years ago. Tragic and so sad. He started a Facebook Page called Bands for Adam to try to raise safety awareness since that happened. He posted your story this morning. My heart goes out to the families and everyone affected by these types of accidents. Here is the link if anyone wants to go look at it. There are so many things that most people don’t even think about when they are out hunting or fishing.

  • I have to disagree with some of the comments about waders causing someone to drown.
    My 40+ years of fishing and boating while wearing waders, is that if worn properly and with the right type of wader, waders will help keep you afloat and warm.
    Neoprene waders are tight fitting and with belt, will let little in water in, and will keep you you warm.
    Breathable waders will keep you afloat for awhile, as they are baggy and will puff up from the trapped air giving you great flotation. As these waders are breathable, the air will eventually flow out the pores and compress around your body, they will not fill up if wearing a proper belt. Your chest down to you waist will get wet, but very little water will flow down the legs.
    Boot foot waders, regardless of the material they are made of are problematic. The boots built into the waders are heavy will counteract some of the flotation.
    You also have to know how to swim with waders. You need to get on your back and stroke horizontally. Freestyle swimming will negate the flotation and tire you out.
    I went to a Coast Guard safety class about 15 years ago. This was for fishermen and hunters. They had us put our waders on jump into a swimming pool, everyone floated. Some had a little wader in their waders, but we all swam on our back 2 lengths of the pool.

    There are many articles and videos on the Internet showing how waders float.
    Here are a couple.

    • I wear hip waders and standup paddle my canoe. my waders float. they are the lacrosse 600 gram Big Chief $160. I have tested them the hard way.

    • In that cold water a person might not be able to get on their back and would drownd in waders like that.

  • Well he sank in his waders…..probably better off in a wetsuit…

    • He didn’t have waders!!!!

    • I don’t know if you have been hunting but you don’t wear a wet suit and even the divers that were out there with wet suits can only stand about 30 minutes of the water. But once again the man did not have waiters on. Being informed would be smart before making comments like those

  • So very sorry to these families. Hate to have to talk to my own children about safety using others as examples. Regardless of the exact details, having a plan, letting people know where you are and when you will be back, using proper safety equipment and having a knowledge of your sport can save your life. Sometimes its an expense issue and sometimes you simply don’t know what could happen. So sad to hear of good kids having fun turning tragic.

  • I give the family my deepest sympathy. It is so tragic.
    The hardest part of an unexpected death is not having the opportunity to say goodbye.
    Outdoor sports and adventure activities such as hunting, mountaineering, climbing, road cycling…involve risk and danger, but so does everything else in life!  The presence of danger gives rise to risk, and easily taken for granted.

    People get in life-altering accidents everyday. Accidents like this remind me of how lucky I’ve been.. It’s not like I walk around wearing a life jacket all the time. If you take something for granted, you don’t worry or think about it because you assume you will always have it. Tragedies like this make us re-examine our lives.

    Im very sorry for the loss of your beloved son, and I’m praying that God gives you His peace, comfort and strength in these trying times.

  • This is terrible. So sorry to the friend and family of that man.

  • Water does not sink, ergo water filled waders don’t sink. Waders, (rubber hip) sink, neoprene floats. Lesson? .Don’t wear rubber waders.

    • By that logic, water-filled boats don’t sink…

      • My drift boat (Clacka Craft), won’t sink when filled with water.
        My 16′ Cat won’t sink either, but it doesn’t hold water, any water that comes is automatically goes out.
        Therefore, the logic is sound in my case. Same logic with waders. Whether you float depends upon the types of waders and how you use them.

    • Waders filled with water would certainly make it harder to kick to stay afloat in that you’d have to move the mass of the water along with the mass of the leg. Keeping the extra weight of a part of the waders above water, which is needed for floating, would also be a problem, as neoprene may be less dense that water but certainly not than air. Waders that were still holding air would actually have some positive buoyancy that is gone when water filled. Also floating is about the center of buoyancy in relation to the center of mass. The water filled waders shifts the center of mass away from the center of buoyancy (the lungs?) and would cause the legs to tend to sink more than without the waders and maintaining a float with feet down is much harder than being vertical- I haven’t thought through why yet but experience tells me that’s true. Over all, I doubt the slight buoyancy of neoprene waders will keep you afloat with a tensed body. Water filled or not. If they did, you’d see fishermen in waders floating bottom up like dabbling ducks. Or neoprene suited divers bouncing to the surface like corks.

  • What a tough story, I am so sorry for the loss of the family, and great to see such good people still out there to assist. Also, whom ever wrote this story I want to give you extreme kudos. You are a great writer, you cut through the BS and tell the story! Well done!

  • Prayers to Tyler’s family and friends! Let us all learn from this tragedy. Let us teach our children well so this never happens again. Canoes are too tippy for hunting. Wear a life jacket. Use stable boats that don’t sink when hunting. Practice falling out and getting back in. Be safe!!

  • So sorry to his family, and friends. He was a great guy, so sorry to see this happen to him, I’m forever sad, had his whole life ahead of him, he used to be my daughters boyfriend, always loved him, and wanted the best for him always😪

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