Father, son perform dramatic rescue on Lake Lochloosa
Published: Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 8:21 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 8:21 p.m.
Charles Cannady hadn't been to Lake Lochloosa in two years, but on Thursday his son Ernie insisted they go fishing.
The pair traveled to the lake about 20 minutes away from Charles' home in Anthony and arrived a bit before noon at 16204 SE 207th St. in Lochloosa. Several other people were already out on the lake on small boats taking advantage of the sunny weather and clear skies, Charles said.
After getting their 14-foot skiff boat out on the water, Charles, 75, and Ernie, 54, put out their fishing lines and waited. They didn't have to wait for long before they saw 63-year-old Eddie Ellis jump into the dark waters and not come back up.
He was still and face down when the Canndays reached him. Eddie's wife, Gloria Ellis, 63, of Screven, Ga., later told deputies that her husband jumped into the water to save their dog who fell into the lake, Alachua County Sheriff's Office public information officer Art Forgey said.
The dog had panicked, kicking and biting Eddie. As Gloria saw her husband struggle, she threw him a life vest, but it floated away from him. Now Eddie panicked, too.
He was sinking when Charles and Ernie began pulling him into their tiny boat. The dog Eddie had tried to save had already drowned, Gloria would tell them later.
Father and son pulled Eddie on top of their legs because they couldn't lift him. Water rushed in the boat as Charles and Ernie struggled to get out from under an unresponsive Eddie.
"We hollered to his wife, ‘We're going to take him to get some help,' and we just took off," Charles said. "I don't even know how she responded because she didn't know how to drive the boat and we had to just leave her there."
As they took off toward the shore, Ernie called 911. Eddie's hands were as cold as the dark waters he had been pulled out from, Charles said.
"I was holding his hands and at some point he woke up and grabbed my hands, too," he said. "Up to that point, I didn't know if he was going to make it or not."
An ambulance was already waiting for them when they arrived at the shore. Eddie was still passed out and his breathing was shallow, Ernie said.
Out on a wobbly deck, two older fishermen watched as Charles and Ernie rescued Eddie and later the ambulance taking Eddie to UF Health Shands Hospital.
"The man was a big guy," one of the men said as he reeled in his line. "We saw him go in the water and then they grabbed him and pulled him in."
Ernie said that after the ambulance took Eddie, he went back to find Gloria with another volunteer named Jemal Hill. Later, they took Eddie's boat and vehicle back to Lochloosa Harbor Fish Camp as Gloria rushed to Shands, Forgey said.
When Gloria and deputies arrived at Shands, Eddie was lying upright and seemed to be in good spirits, Forgey said.
Ernie said that when he and his father got home, Charles was exhausted and weak.
"His blood pressure reached almost 200," Ernie said. "I mean we're talking about an almost 76-year-old man here. We had just gotten started fishing, but that kind of ended our trip," Ernie said.
After a few hours, Charles' blood pressure was back to normal, his wife, Linda Cannady, said.
"The good Lord let them be there today," she said. "Ernie just wanted to go. That man would be dead if they hadn't."