Lake Palestine survivor: How did he do it?
SMITH COUNTY — 65-year-old Tommy Cook and 61-year-old Michael Ammons were doing a little fishing on Wednesday when authorities say the boat took on water and they decided to cling to a stump to survive.
Cook didn't make it...but 61-year-old Ammons did...through the night...and the morning Thursday...for hours in the bitter cold.
Cok's brother Cifton says Amons and his brother have fished and hunted together their whole lives...and they were skilled.
"I would say expert outdoor knowledge...they always wore their life jackets and everything else that goes with it," Cook said.
The wind chill in East Texas Wednesday night and early Thursday morning was in the 20's.
But the water temperature ranged from 65 to 75 degrees.
We spoke with a local doctor who says as far as hypothermia, the water may have actually saved Ammons.
"Water usually makes hypothermia worse, cold water, because you lose heat faster through water than through air, but in this case last night, it could have actually helped him," Wallace said.
And when it comes down to survival -- Wallace says other physioligical changes often come to our aid.
"Initially, you know you have a fight or flight response where you get an adreneline surge in your body, so that certainly helped him for the first hour or so," Wallace said.
Corbin Hodge works at the Villages Marina and spent more than an hour in the Lake Palestine water on Thursday salvaging the fishing boat.
When asked if he could imagine clinging to a stump all night in the cold, Hodge says...no.
"It would have been tough to have been hanging on to a stump all night long, very tough. Between the water temperature and the wind temperature, and just everything that happens when you're on the water," Hodge said.
Doctor Wallace says if this happened a few months from now, as the water gets much cooler, things may have turned out differently for Ammons.