“I was just in Lake Pontchartrain”: Two boaters rescued after clinging to a life vest in a tropical storm

“I was just in Lake Pontchartrain”: Two boaters rescued after clinging to a life vest in a tropical storm
As tropical storm Cristóbal started to move inland, Ted Roach says it’s the fisherman’s nature to go out on the water. (Source: Ted Roach)

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - As tropical storm Cristóbal started to move inland, Ted Roach says it’s the fisherman’s nature to go out on the water.

“We go to crabbing every tropical storm hurricane category one or under we’re going crabbing shrimping whatever,” said Roach.

However, this time the boat motor died in the middle of the lake, and both he and his friend, Jennifer Lingoni started to sink with it. For Roach who says he grew up on the water, he knew not to panic, but says Lingoni was not as calm.

“We had one life jacket between the both of us I picked up a big log to float for both of us… I wasn’t gonna let nothing happened to her but we made it it’s all right,” said Roach.

For more than 25 hours, the pair floated in the water with one life vest between them, grabbing other debris along the way to help them stay afloat. Roach says they tried to flag down help, but quickly gave up on that effort.

“It was miserable watching the people fly over your waving to them and you just spent so much energy trying to stay afloat and they fly right over you they don’t even see you,” said Roach.

Floating in the water, they estimate the storm took them more than 24 miles around the lake and finally found help about 13 miles from where the boat sunk.

After weathering a tropical storm overnight in the water, Roach says they found themselves near the marsh near Bayou Lacombe.

“We walked probably four miles, walk, swim, treaded for miles through the marsh to the road that was flooded knee-deep… I had no shirt on, I wish I would’ve kept my shirt because I would’ve not get cut up all on my chest of my stomach, but all my legs, feet, knees everything cut up,” said Roach.

Not only were coast guard units searching the water, Roach’s friends took their boats out to help as well. However, their confidence in finding their friend started waning.

“We wanted to find him, but didn’t want to find them you know, we didn’t want to be the ones to find him we just expected the worst, like who can float the lake in a tropical storm,” said DJ Knecht.

“I mean I was just in Lake Pontchartrain… Coast Guard told me he’s been doing this 46 years and never saw anyone survive what I survived, but not only me a friend of mine also,” said Roach.

While Roach’s loved ones celebrated his return, he says he doesn’t think of it as a story of survival so much as a long trip trying to get back home.

“For my kids, you know for my kids, my mother my mother’s already lost one son I knew I couldn’t let that happen… I respect the water I’ve been out there all my life in the same boat I was a kid growing up,” said Roach.

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