BOGALUSA- Two hunters trapped in the high waters of the Pearl River for hours Friday morning are dry and warm at home tonight. Eyewitness News broke the story on Twitter.
Pulling up to land after being stuck in water for hours was an answer to a prayer for Stephen Leicher. He and his friend didn’t know what the Pearl River in Washington Parish, near the St. Tammany Parish line, had in store for them when they launched to hunt ducks at 5 a.m. Friday.
"The current was so bad. They had a tree to our side. We didn't see it. It pushed us against it and as soon as it did, it flipped the boat over," said Leicher, “He slid off the boat and grabbed hold of my hip boot and he grabbed onto another tree down there and I kept yelling for him."
After that, all Leicher had for hours was a log-bed on the bank of the river and a whistle.
He said, "I sat there all morning and made a little bed, laid down for a little while and finally kept blowing my teal whistle and somebody heard me."
Four hours later, the first call for help came in and the hunt was not for Leicher’s friend, Jason Rogan. First responders were especially concerned about the rescue effort because of the status of the river. It's high, it's fast and it's foggy.
Sgt. Darryl Galloway with Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries said, "We had a tremendous response, we didn't need another ordeal like we did last year in Sun when the people lost their lives in that boating accident."
Friends of the hunters were fearing a similar fate.
"Anxiety for sure, not knowing what's going on,” said Kari Hunt, “We had a friend that this happened to that they never found until a month later."
After another hour, the search parties packed up.
Galloway said, "Me and Agent Krump were able to find the subject that was lost, he was on a log jam wet, bootless, very cold and very happy to see us."
Once found, Rogan refused medical treatment on the scene. Leicher had plans to get checked out at a hospital.