It was Saturday, May 30th 2010, Memorial Day weekend. The house was fairly quiet and peaceful. My husband was in the shower getting the stink off, after working in the yard for hours. I was at my desk, watching oil spill coverage on the internet. The phone rang; my stepson. “Mom, we’re in a bad situation here”. The following are not exact quotes, but you’ll get the idea.

Me: What’s wrong?

Him: We’re in the lake, and we’re sinking.

Me: Do you have your life jackets?

Him: Yes ma’am

Me: Do you have them on?

Him: Yes ma’am

Me: Did you call 911?

Him: Yes ma’am

Then he told me who was on board (him, his wife, and the 12 yr old), and where they were. About 1 mile north of the 8 mile hump of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway! That puts him 7 miles out on open water.

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When he said “We’re going down, now”, I knew there was no time to take his dad the phone. I told him to hang on, and that I loved him.

Then I ran and got his dad, who also called 911. He was assured that help was on the way.

So now the decisions begin. Where do we go? We just headed in the general direction of the lake, praying, and making phone calls. We ended up in Madisonville, which is west of the causeway. Once we got there, my husband decided to go to Mandeville instead, on the east side. Somewhere in between, we got a phone call, all 3 had been rescued! Now the question, where are they coming in? At times like that, all you want to do is lay your eyes and your hands on your loved ones. So we’re on the Mandeville lakefront, and his son calls, they came in at Mariner’s Village, a harbor in between the two we had in mind.

It took about 5 minutes to get there, and driving in we saw the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s office boat, and an Acadian ambulance. We didn’t panic at the sight, we were already sure it was protocol for them to get checked out.

As we walked around to the back of the ambulance, the tears fell. We saw them all sitting in the back of the ambulance, and we knew they were ok. After a little while filling out paperwork, for the La Dept of Wildlife and Fisheries, they were finally allowed to leave. We squeezed them into our car, and took them to their SUV, complete with an empty boat trailer.

He was heart-sick about the boat, she was kind of relieved. They were both thankful to have been rescued so promptly, and of course, that they were alive. My grandson has a story to tell now; kids are resilient that way!

The next day, my husband and his son, went with my husband’s boss, in his boat, to look for the swamped boat. They searched for about 4 hours before having to give up. They had received word from someone that the sheriff’s office had taken a ride out early Sunday morning, and saw the boat with the bow and windshield pointed up out of the water. Since they couldn’t find it, they assumed it sank.

The lake is not deep, 12 – 14 ft according to Wiki. The shallowness of the lake is what causes so many people to get in trouble. Louisiana has sub-tropical weather, and summer thunder-storms pop up unexpected. Without deep water to absorb the energy, the water gets turbulent quickly.

With intentions of finding the boat with a depth finder, my step-son contacted a friend that knew a man with a bigger boat. They would locate it, float a buoy to mark the location, and then send divers to attach flotation (tire tubes?) devices to it to bring it up to the surface.

The next morning, my step-son got a phone call from a man in Houma; he had come across the boat the day before. He said it was about 3 miles out when he saw it. He retrieved several items from it, and when he got home, made phone calls to authorities to find out who owned the boat. He called my step-son personally and told him the news. The weather that day was not permissive for another trip out in the lake, so they had to wait until Tuesday.

It was later that evening when the man with the boat got off work that they went to look for it. They probably searched for a good hour, to no avail. Before coming in to the launch, the man decided to pass the river and ride just a bit west. They passed the Madisonville Lighthouse, and there sat the boat in very shallow water.

They left the boat and went back to the launch, so my stepson could send his wife home to get the boat trailer. They went back and towed the boat to the launch while she was gone. They were able to bail just enough water out of it to trailer it when she got back.

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So for the first couple of days of this saga, I heard “Mom, we’re in a bad situation here” at least a thousand times in my head, it was replaced with “They didn’t bring the trailer?”. It’s kind of funny how that works; isn’t it! Thankfully, everyone came out unscathed, but it could have been so much worse.

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