LAKE TEXOMA, OK -- The Coast Guard is investigating the sinking of a local fishing guide boat on Lake Texoma. The boat remains on the bottom of the lake, but all four people on-board are alive and well because of the life jackets they were wearing.
Off the shores of Lake Texoma, Wayne McCullough has enjoyed leading fishing trips for almost a decade.
"I carried all the requirements - the type 1 life jackets, I even had the flares - we were in great shape, I thought,” McCullough explained.
McCullough along with three passengers, set out Friday morning in his coast guard inspected boat. The group was fishing while anchored in more than 50 feet of water, when suddenly all four people found themselves treading water.
"I looked up the boat was already upside down or sideways, at that point I knew the boat was sinking. I had no warning, I had half a second, a millisecond," McCullough said.
But he did have type 1 life vests, instead of the common, less buoyant and thinner type 3’s.
Unlike the type three vests that you have you put your arms through, and zip up, the type 1 vests simply slip over your head. Wayne says the vests kept him and his passengers afloat for more than hour, until a passing boat picked them up.
"I just know down deep, if we had been out there for 3 or 4 hours, the normal type 3 jackets would have soaked up the water and we would have drown,” McCullough said.
Coast Guard investigators say the type 1 life jackets were able to help the group survive because by design they keep the person's head above water and face-up.
Wayne admits he wasn't a fan of the new vests initially, but now he says he won't have anything else.
"I griped when I was told I had to buy another $100-200 in life jacket. They're bigger, they're bulkier, they're uncomfortable, but if I ever get another boat, I'll be having type 1s on board, even for myself,” McCullough said.
Coast Guard officials say because many commercial operations on Lake Texoma are not up to federal requirements like McCullough was, they are offering a voluntary examination that is "no blame, no penalty and no fault." Officials say they just want to help boat operators better understand the requirements.
To schedule an examination, call (832) 256-3257 or make a request via email – HoustonDOM@uscg.mil.