Tennessee Highway Patrol State Trooper rescues boater

Temmessee State Police trooper saves boater

On May 2, 2020, Lieutenant Charlie Caplinger was off duty with his fishing partner, Mike Redmon in a fishing tournament on Center Hill Lake. Around 10:00 a.m., they stopped to fish a spot when they heard a man talking loudly approximately 100 yards away.  Initially, they thought he was just talking to his fishing partner.  A few seconds later, the man started yelling for help and waving his arms.  Lieutenant Caplinger and Mike immediately responded to the call for help.  When they arrived at the other party's boat, a man said that his son had fallen into the water and could not swim, nor did he have a life jacket on.  Lieutenant Caplinger jumped from his boat onto the other party’s boat.  The son, appearing to be in his late 20's or early 30's, was hanging onto a tree covered in thorns.  The father and Lieutenant Caplinger tried to lift the son back into the boat but were unable to do so.  The other party’s boat began taking on large amounts of water and the rear of the boat started to sink.  Lieutenant Caplinger told the father to go to the front of the boat while Lieutenant Caplinger held onto the son.  Lieutenant Caplinger's fishing partner Mike, held onto the front of the boat to keep it from going further underwater, and threw Lieutenant Caplinger a life jacket for the son.  Due to the circumstances, Lieutenant Caplinger was unable to get the life jacket on the son.  Lieutenant Caplinger instructed Mike to put the boats together and push the boats to shallow water until the son could possibly stand on the bottom of the lake.  Mike was able to push them to the bank, but the son was too exhausted to stand or move.  The son’s lips were purple, and he kept saying, "Please don't let me die.”  After getting close to the bank, Lieutenant Caplinger, with the father's assistance, pulled the son onto the back of his boat where he began to recover.  Lieutenant Caplinger offered to call 911 for an ambulance, but the family declined as the son started warming up and began to become more coherent.  Over the weekend, Lieutenant Caplinger went one step further and checked on the son’s condition twice.  The son is expected to be ok.