On the final day of the American Bass Anglers Association Couples Championship Tournament on Sept. 21, Charles, 79, and Janette, 72, fell overboard during a heavy wind and rainstorm. They were rescued by Justin Wallace, of Chickamauga, Ga., and his cousin Steve Troxtel, of Trenton, Ga., who were in a nearby boat.Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
KIMBALL, Tenn. — When Janette Rodgers of Cayce, S.C., describes the day she and her husband, Charles, almost lost their lives in a boating accident on Nickajack Lake, her gratitude shines through.
She has a lot for which to be grateful.
On the final day of the American Bass Anglers Association Couples Championship Tournament on Sept. 21, Charles, 79, and Janette, 72, fell overboard during a heavy wind and rain storm.
Both were wearing rain suits with bibs, which began to fill with water almost immediately and left them struggling to stay afloat.
"It was literally pulling us under," Janette Rodgers said. "All of a sudden, two young men were there trying to pull us out. It was a miracle."
The two men were in another boat not far away, and when they saw what was happening, they rushed over to pull the pair back on board.
"It's hard to tell people how it was," Janette Rodgers said. "We wouldn't have made it without those two young men. We were very, very fortunate."
In all the commotion, the Rodgerses didn't get the names of the men, and they asked local media to help identify their rescuers.
After reading the story of the couple's search in the Times Free Press last month, Justin Wallace, of Chickamauga, Ga., and his cousin Steve Troxtel, of Trenton, Ga., came forward.
"We do not view ourselves as heroes," Wallace said. "We were just doing what any good person would do in such a situation. We are, however, honored that they feel this way."
Kimball hosted the fishing tournament and, on Thursday, its Board of Mayor and Aldermen honored the men for their bravery.
Mayor David Jackson said even if Wallace and Troxtel don't consider themselves heroes for what they did, they still are in everyone else's eyes.
"We're certainly glad these two men were in the vicinity," he said. "We're just proud that everything worked out. They risked their lives doing it."
City leaders presented both men with plaques that read in part, "Thank God for courageous men who are willing to risk their lives for others in need."
Rodgers said she has spoken with her rescuers a couple of times since discovering their names in November.
"I've enjoyed speaking to them," she said. "They're just wonderful young men."
"We are just glad we were there to help," Wallace said.
Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryan firstname.lastname@example.org.