Bass fishermen receive recognition for saving hunters from sinking boat

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July 21st, 2008

Bass fishermen receive recognition for saving hunters from sinking boat

On a cold January morning at Bartlett Lake, the quick thinking of two off-duty Phoenix police officers, who coincidentally were out tournament bass fishing, saved the lives of three javelina hunters whose boat started sinking while crossing the lake.

The heroic actions of Mike Perry and Mark Potts earned them a “Commendation for Excellence” from the Arizona Game and Fish Department Deputy Director during the June commission meeting in Phoenix.

“All too often and usually after the fact, we see the tragic end results of bad decisions. It is very rare to honor folks who have actually made a real difference. Without a doubt, the quick and heads-up actions by Mark Potts and Mike Perry saved three lives that day and prevented a tragedy,” said Kevin Bergersen, law enforcement programs coordinator / boating law administrator. “All hunters, indeed all boaters, can learn from this near miss.”

Perry and Potts were bass fishing on Saguaro Lake when they witnessed the three hunters’ heavily loaded aluminum boat starting to sink and overturn. Fortunately, the fishermen were only 150 yards away and were able to rescue the struggling hunters before it was too late.

The three archery javelina hunters had just launched their boat, which was being used to access the other side of the lake. The voyage only went about 100 yards before the front of the boat went under water and began to sink. Due to the near freezing winter weather, all three hunters were fully clothed and geared up for their hunt, which made swimming nearly impossible.

Perry and Potts had been watching the entire scene unfold. They quickly raced over to the overturned boat to find the situation turning worse, since no one was wearing a life jacket. Two of the victims were struggling just to stay above water, while the third was no longer visible. Fast-thinking Perry saw an arm under the surface and was able to reach the drowning man and haul him to the boat. Potts managed to assist the other two waterlogged hunters to the side of the boat.

When the boat was recovered, the only gear salvaged were the three unworn life jackets found floating nearby.

Bergersen advises all boat owners take a boating safety class before casting off. “Safe boating is important in all activities, be it recreational or just as a method of transportation. Understanding weight and passenger capacity, weight distribution, and use of personal floatation devices are just a few of the concerns boat owners should be aware of,” he says.

Oddly, although the incident happened in January, the Game and Fish Department was unable to get the awards to Perry and Potts due to scheduling conflicts around their very busy spring time fishing schedules. Apparently, outside of work and family, fishing is the next most important passion in their life. Now those are dedicated sportsmen!

In addition to the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s recognition, both Perry and Potts were also awarded the Medal of Lifesaving by the Phoenix Police Department’s Honors Board.

To learn more about boating safety, visit www.azgfd.gov/i_e/edits/boating_education.shtml

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