HURRICANE — Hurricane Search and Rescue responded to Quail Lake Reservoir Saturday afternoon following a report that two men had been fishing in a canoe and went missing.
Early Saturday morning, James Novak, 25, woke up his brother Steven Novak, 23, to go fishing at Quail Lake. They arrived at the lake around 9 a.m., got into their 14-foot canoe, and started paddling across the water from what is known to locals as the “free beach” toward the west side of the lake.
“The wind wasn’t that bad at the point,” Steven Novak said. “We started fishing at the main dam. There was another boat on the lake pulling some skiers and then they left and it was just me and my brother.”
Around 10 a.m., the wind started to pick up and the water got choppy, he said.
“I told him we ought to get out by the smaller dam and walk home. We started paddling back that way and were going into the wind,” Steven Novak said. “We were paddling so hard that one of the paddles snapped in half.”
Around this time, Steven Novak called his father, Chris Novak, who was at home working.
“They were telling me that they were fighting against the wind,” Chris Novak said. “I could hear the storm and wind just pounding in the background.”
After hanging up the phone with his son, Chris Novak tried to call back and neither of his sons’ phones worked, he began to panic thinking the worst. He drove to Quail Lake and when he got there, he scanned the lake and shoreline and could not see them.
“I thought they’d drowned. I asked a lady to call the rangers. I was worried,” Chris Novak said.
He called his wife Vera Novak, who was at work, and walked down to the shoreline in search of his sons. Hurricane Police officers, state park rangers and Hurricane Search and Rescue were dispatched in the area to search for the men. Camp Host Helen Hodgins and her husband Chuck Hodgins launched the ranger boat and began to skim along the shoreline.
“When we didn’t see them, I started to panic,” Helen Hodgins said.
Meanwhile, Chris Novak and James Novak were hauling the canoe home on foot after they had paddled their way to the south end of the lake to the smaller dam.
“It’s really rocky in that area, so when we went to get out of the canoe it tipped over and everything fell into the water,” Steven Novak said. “My brother lost his fishing pole and both of our phones got wet. We live on the other side of the lake. We carried the canoe across the river and past Grandpa’s fishing pond to our home. I was drenched and cold.”
The water was 65 degrees Helen Hodgins said, cold enough to induce hypothermia under certain conditions. A Hurricane police officer was able to confirm that the men had made it home.
Needless to say, the Novak brothers didn’t catch any fish but made it home safe.
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