Boaters who couldn't reach life jackets in time rescued from Douglas Lake

DANDRIDGE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Kelly Phillips, his son-in-law Craig Manning and his grandson, CJ Manning, are lucky to be alive after their boat capsized on Douglas Lake Monday night.

"I don't know if you believe in angels or not, but I do," he said.

Phillips said it was around 11 PM when they decided to start the boat up and move to a different part of the lake to fish. He said the engine wouldn't go down and the next thing they knew, the boat started filling with water and then flipped over.

He said there were life jackets on board, but no one was wearing them.

"And I can't swim. Being crazy out there without a life jacket on," said Phillips.

CJ Manning managed to save his phone and call 911. Then the men clung to the edge of the overturned boat until Sheriff GW "Bud" McCoig rescued them.

"He just lives around the island from where we capsized at and he come to us. And he got the call and he didn't even have his shoes on. He just jerked on a pair of shorts and come to us and got us out and got us up in the other boat," said Phillips.

Phillips said they're blessed to still be alive. And Craig Manning's mother - CJ's grandmother - is happy things turned out this way.

"If something happened to them, it would have just been too much. I hope they've learned a lesson because life jackets do help you float," said JoAnne Manning.

"If you get out on that lake, you need to wear a life jacket because you never know what's going to happen," said Phillips.

The TWRA and another boater also helped rescue the men.

Phillips said it will be awhile before he goes fishing again, but he'll be wearing his life jacket when he does, and hopes his story inspires others to do the same.

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