Father saves family with boat anchor: Craft drifted near dam

Published 6:20 am Saturday, August 6, 2016

A family was spared an unwanted dip in the Pearl River — or worse — thanks to the quick thinking and fast action of a father Thursday that prevented his boat and his family from tumbling over the low-head dam at Poole’s Bluff.

According to Adam Einck, a spokesperson with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, LDWF agents got a call at 1:30 p.m. alerting them that a family of five was stranded in a stalled 15-foot aluminum fishing boat at Poole’s Bluff. Einck said the boat’s motor died suddenly and at first, the father tried to paddle toward shore.

However, he was unable to keep up with the current that was pulling him toward the submerged dam.

Had the boat topped the dam, it could have flipped over, spilling the family. The family included the man, his wife and three children, a 5-year-old, a 6-year-old and a 23-month old. The LDWF did not identify the family.

The submerged dam has been associated with drowning in the past. Just last year, Einck said a woman and her boyfriend drowned in the area after their boat flipped after going over the dam.

Tragedy was averted Thursday, however.

Einck said the father lowered an anchor and the boat came to a stop — six feet from the dam.

“This father did a great job,” Einck said. “No. 1, he was sober, there was no alcohol anywhere, and that probably helped his decision making. He was able to follow the correct steps to ensure the safety of his family.”

Einck elaborated and said even if the boat had flipped, the family was prepared and everyone was wearing life jackets. Life jackets are required by law for boating in Louisiana, but Einck said an anchor is not.

“The anchor is not required, but it could be a very valuable piece of safety gear as well,” he said.

While there has been talk in the past of getting rid of the low head dam, such a decision would need to come from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Einck said.

“It’s a very dangerous part of the river over there and we always try to advise the public to be aware of where they’re at and where the dams are at and to stay away from them,” Einck said.