ADAM GERIK/JOURNAL STAR
Roger Holmes, center, spent Saturday at Banner Marsh with Landon Wineland, 14, left, and Isaac Ramsay, 15, to give the boys on-the-water experience for the upcoming IHSA fishing tournament. Instead of catching fish, they pulled a drowning man to safety.
Prep fishing team rescues angler
Fast action by a high school fishing team likely saved the life of another angler on Saturday at Banner Marsh State Fish and Wildlife Area.
Roger Holmes of Elmwood was captaining a boat for the Elmwood High School fishing team Saturday morning on Banner’s Johnson Lake. Also in the boat were high schoolers Isaac Ramsay and Landon Wineland, who were competing in the final team tournament to decide which anglers
would represent Elmwood in Friday’s Illinois High School Association bass fishing sectionals.
While fishing the deep, main bowl of Johnson Lake at about 11:40 a.m., Holmes said he heard “a commotion.”
“We had passed three guys in about a 12-foot johnboat and asked how the fishing was. They said they weren’t doing any good,” Holmes said. “A little bit later we heard one of them say, ‘Water in the boat.’
“About then I saw the back end of their boat go under. I told the kids, ‘Reel ‘em in, we’ve got to go help them.’”
Two anglers in the capsized boat started swimming for shore from the middle of the deep strip-mine lake. The third angler, who was not wearing a life jacket, could only flail the water.
“He didn’t look like he could swim so I yelled to him, ‘Hold on, we’re coming,’” Holmes said.
By the time Holmes motored over, the fellow angler’s head was under water and only his hands were above the surface.
“My arm was halfway under water when I grabbed him,” Holmes said. “If I’d have got there five seconds later there would have been no way of getting to him without diving in. That dude would have died.”
While Holmes held the angler’s arm, Ramsay grabbed a leg. Together they hauled the angler — known only as Jimmy — safely to shore.
“I never got his name. He was dazed, just sitting there shivering,” Holmes said.
Holmes gave Jimmy his jacket, a bottle of water and a Snickers bar. “He said he was a diabetic and could use a candy bar,” Holmes said.
Another group of fishermen dragged the capsized boat to shore. Eventually, all three anglers and the boat were hauled safely back to the ramp
at the Main Access Area.
The same lake is the site of Friday’s local sectional tournament. Ramsay and Wineland are two of six Elmwood anglers who will compete, despite not catching a fish last Saturday.
“The irony is they didn’t catch a fish, but they saved a life,” Elmwood fishing coach Gordon Inskeep said.