A local angler is counting himself lucky, after sustaining non-life threatening injuries in a two-boat crash Thursday, April 20, on Grand Lake.
Jimmy Green of Grove is recovering after receiving three broken ribs, two fractured rib and a deeply bruised back from being tossed from a bass boat near the Pensacola Dam on Grand Lake.
The incident, which took place mid-morning on Thursday, happened when the bass boats driven by Costa FLW Series anglers Ross Wright of McQueeny, Texas, and Matt Garner of Seminole, Oklahoma collided into each other near Check-in Bay near Disney.
Green was riding with Garner as his co-angler, while Johnny Babb of Holdenville, Oklahoma, was with Wright.
Green said he and Garner were fishing near the dam in a cove, when the pair decided to head toward the northern portion of the lake.
Green said he had his hoodie and rain suit hood pulled over his head, to ward off rain as he sat next to Garner. He said Garner, who was wearing driving goggles, was not running the boat as fast as he could, because of the weather conditions.
He said the exact details of the accident are unclear. He simply remembers hearing a "bam" as the two boats made contact.
Green said he was thrown from the boat. He knows he made contact with it as he flipped out, because of bruising patterns on his back.
He "skipped across the water twice" before going under the water. He made contact with the boat, as it went over top of him, but he said somehow he reacted and managed to push himself away from the hull before the prop hit him.
Green said his rain gear became water-logged, with his pants wrapping around his legs, and his jacket twisting over his head with his inflatable vest.
"It felt like an eternity," Green said, of his time under the water.
At some point, Green was able to get his jacket off, which allowed the inflatable vest to bring him to the surface.
"I remember telling God, 'not now Lord,'" Green said, adding that thoughts of his children filled his mind in those moments underwater. "In that moment, I didn't know what was broken. I just did what ever I had to to get it [the rain gear] off of me."
Once he surfaced, he immediately began searching for his colleagues. As the four men made contact with each other, another angler pulled up in his rig.
That man, who remains unknown to Green, called the Grand River Dam Authority Police, and then helped pull the four anglers from the lake.
"He lowered a ladder down from his boat," Green said. "I landed on all fours on his deck, and just waited for GRDA to get there."
GRDA officials eventually pulled the boats to shore and got the men to the shore, where they were eventually transported to hospitals for treatment. At least two of the angers were taken to Tulsa, while Green was transported to Freeman West Hospital in Joplin, Missouri for treatment.
Green is now home, recovering from his injuries.
This is the first Costa FLW Series event Green has fished. For the last three years, he has fished the BFL tournaments.
He decided to try this tournament on Grand, after learning about the need for co-anglers from a friend.
"I'm 13th in points in the BFL, and I thought, I'm having a good year, why not," Green said. "I had planned on fishing the Costa next year [as an angler], because I've picked up a couple of sponsors.
"I love this stuff."
Green said he's been fishing for the past 33 years - beginning as a 12-year-old. This is his first boat collision.
"This just doesn't happen very often," Green said. "It's unfortunate. But it was not a head-on collision. I know that."
Green said he knows the other driver, Wright, was quite upset because of the accident.
"I told him 'dude, everybody is walking away, this could have been way worse,'" Green said. "Hopefully people will grasp that this really wasn't a tragedy. Nobody did anything on purpose.
"I'm just thankful everybody is alive."
About the tournament
On Friday, which was slated to be Day Two of the Costa FLW Series event on Grand Lake, tournament officials canceled the day's fishing due to severe thunderstorms and lightning.
The tournament is slated to resume Saturday, April 22, with the full field fishing.
Officials said the pro and co-angler winners will be determined by the cumulative weight of two days of competition instead of three.
Anglers will take off Saturday from Wolf Creek Park, located at 963 North 16th Street in Grove at 6:30 a.m..
The final weigh-in, originally scheduled to take place at Wal-Mart, will now be held at Wolf Creek Park and will begin at 2:30 p.m.
Takeoff and weigh-in are free and open to the public. The event is hosted by the City of Grove.
About the Costa
In Costa FLW Series regular-season competition, payouts are based on the number of participants competing in the event.
At Grand Lake, pros will fish for as much as $40,000 and a Ranger Z518C boat with a 200-horsepower Evinrude outboard if Ranger Cup qualified. Co-anglers will cast for a Ranger Z175 boat with a 90-horsepower Evinrude outboard and an additional $5,000 if Ranger Cup qualified.
The Costa FLW Series consists of five U.S. divisions – Central, Northern, Southeastern, Southwestern and Western. Each division consists of three tournaments with competitors vying for valuable points that could earn them the opportunity to fish in the Costa FLW Series Championship. The 2017 Costa FLW Series Championship is being held Nov. 2-4 on Kentucky Lake in Paris, Tennessee.
For more information, persons interested may visit www.flwfishing.com, or follow tournament news on social media @FLWFishing on Facebook and Twitter.