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New Orleans, La. -- A fishing trip turned frightening for two New Orleans men over the weekend when their boat sank in Port Fourchon. The fishermen connect the boat going under water to a mistake made by a national sporting goods retailer, and they turned to the FOX 8 Defenders to get their potentially life-saving consumer message out to others.
Randy Horton and Bill Carr say they didn't see a ripple in the water when they launched their boat about midnight Saturday. They were headed to a fishing camp a couple of miles from the public boat launch to get ready for a fishing trip the next day.
"About a mile into the trip, I looked up at Bill. He was in the front of the boat. 'I said Bill, my feet are getting wet! There's something going on here.' He looks back, grabs a paddle, and you could count to five, and we were in water up to here (neck). The boat was gone...Disappeared," said Horton.
"It's something you're always scared is gonna happen, but then once it does happen, you can't believe it's going on," said Carr. Horton's buddy explained it was as if the boat came right out from under them. He said his biggest fear was getting eaten by a shark. "Because we have seen one or two (sharks) out there," said Carr.
With life jackets strapped on, Carr and Horton managed to climb out of their rubber shrimp boots, grab their wallets and cell phones and start swimming. "We probably swam 100 feet, 200 feet maybe," said Horton. They used small lights that were on the boat to navigate in the dark and finally made it to shore. "You could see just six feet in front of you, and every step you take there was something crawling under your feet. I got the light down there... there was eels I guess in the mud," said Horton. By that time, his boat was upside down off in the distance, and his gear was spread out on the water. The two men called 911, and the Port Fourchon Harbor Police got them to safe ground.
Later, after they retrieved the boat, Horton realized how the 14-foot Scanoe canoe he purchased from Dick's Sporting Goods in Metairie sank. "The specs said 3 horsepower motor, and it was a Coleman boat so we bought a Coleman motor, 2.6 horsepower to match all the specs to make sure everything would be alright," explained Horton.
After contacting the boat's manufacturer, KL Industries out of Michigan, Horton said, "they told me well that's wrong... that the boat should not have a gas motor on it, and that they were gonna tell Dick's (Sporting Goods) to change their web site."
Horton said Dick's refunded him for the boat and quickly changed the boat's specs on its web site. Instead of being rated for up to a three horsepower motor, the same Scanoe now calls for a smaller, electric trolling motor. Horton's story is getting a lot of comments on Louisiana Sportsman's web site, and he's hoping people listen to what could be a life-saving message. "You can't always trust the specifications. Even following the specs may not be the safe thing to do," said Horton.
Horton and Carr are glad to be alive and will never forget the horrifying experience. While Dick's Sporting Goods refunded him for his boat, Horton says he lost a lot of gear, including fishing poles, and he says he's left with a motor he can't use.
FOX 8 has reached out to Dick's Sporting Goods' corporate office. So far we haven't heard back for comment.
The FOX 8 Defenders, staffed with volunteers from the National Council of Jewish Women, are here to take your consumer concerns. If you have one, call them at 1-877-670-6397.
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