Bossier deputies rescued a 69-year-old man Monday who was exhausted and stuck knee-deep in mud at Cypress Lake near the Highway 162 boat launch after he swam a few hundred yards unsuccessfully to retrieve the wayward boat he had just launched.
Bill Culbertson of Benton embarked on a mid-day excursion on the lake just before noon Monday and launched his boat into the lake for a relaxing afternoon on the water. Before he could climb aboard, though, the boat eased its way into the water, some 50 or so yards out.
“I saw the boat floating off,” he said, “so I went after it,” said Culbertson, fully-clothed as he jumped into the water and swam to retrieve his boat, which had all his gear and life jackets onboard. The wind picked up and caused the boat to drift away faster. “I chased it for a while, got tired, and I realized I wasn’t going to get it.”
That’s when Culbertson decided to get to a nearby bank to get out of the water. But it had numerous weeds and was too steep to climb. “Those weeds and mud were up to my knees, and every step I took was hard work. I was doing all I could to keep from getting further in the lake. I wore myself out, there’s no two ways about that.” That’s when he got stuck in the mud.
Some fisherman on the shore quickly contacted the Bossier Sheriff’s Office, and in less than five minutes, Lt. Jason Jenkins and Dep. Keith Plunkett, arrived at the boat launch to help.
“We saw an empty boat floating across the lake, but didn’t see anybody near the boat,” said Lt. Jenkins. “Witnesses at the bank said they saw the man near the bank on the other side not too far from the boat.” However, no one could spot the man.
Jenkins and Plunkett drove down the road westward on Highway 162 a few hundred yards away to an area where they saw the boat. They still didn’t see Culbertson.
Jenkins climbed down into the thicket and made his way through the thorny brush along the shoreline.
“I was calling for him, and I heard him say, ‘Over here’” said Lt. Jenkins. But he couldn’t see him. “Where?” yelled Jenkins.
“In the lake, I’m stuck in the mud and I can’t move,” replied Culbertson.
Jenkins continued towards the sound of Culbertson’s voice about 50 yards away and located him in some tall grass in the lake…in the mud…dead tired.
“When I saw the deputy, I said, “Help me,” Culbertson said.
Jenkins pulled Culbertson out of the mud and up the bank to safety, where he was met by medics to be checked out. Aside from exhaustion, Culbertson was okay.
“I was grateful I had some help,” he said. Thinking about the weeds and brush Jenkins maneuvered through to get to him, Culbertson recalled, “You can’t get a rabbit to go through those thick weeds.” But Lt. Jenkins was determined, noting, “I was glad he was okay.”
Culbertson told Jenkins he’s been in those waters many times, and it was just natural for him to go get his boat when it started drifting away. Quick action by Lt. Jenkins helped get 69-year-old Culbertson to safety after he was found exhausted and stuck in waist-high mud. The news is also good for his boat, which was soon retrieved by Capt. Donnie Keith and staff with the Bossier Sheriff’s Office Marine Patrol.