By Kevin Jefferies
Lake Fork – One Cooper resident is happy to be telling his tale of narrow escape from Hurricane Rita winds and rains that caught him on Lake Fork last week. According to The Paris News, 48 year old Blake Shaw was among 2,500 anglers fishing in the McDonalds Big Bass Tournament last Saturday when 50mile-per-hour winds from Hurricane Rita began battering the lake causing 6 to 10 foot waves. Most of the fishermen were able to escape, but Shaw was caught in the storms.
Shaw's boat was capsized by the waves. Clinging to the overturned boat, Shaw decided his best chance was to swim for shore once winds began to blow him further away from land. With his life jacket on and a seat cushion for a floatation device, Shaw began to move towards shore, using tree stumps in the waters to rest periodically.
Nearly three hours passed before he made it to land. As the storm worsened, he found shelter in some cattails and waited. Shaw was able to signal passing fishermen on the second day of the tournament and finally got to safety after 16 hours weathering the storm.
Shaw said remaining level-headed and calm throughout the ordeal helped him survive. That...and a lot of prayers.