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