Four-year-old Henley Adolph was all-smiles and thumbs-up on Sunday afternoon as she traveled back to shore with her new heroes, Texas Parks & Wildlife Game Wardens Justin Eddins and Brooks Yeates. Henley and her parents had been adrift in a boat on Lake Sam Rayburn overnight.
"This could have very easily ended in tragedy, but thank God we had a happy ending", said Eddins after he and Yeates were able to locate the Deweyville family's vessel.
According to Eddins, Dominic Adolph and his wife, Melody, who is pregnant, along with their daughter, Henley, launched their boat late Saturday afternoon at Twin Dikes Park, where they were camped, and set out for what would have been just a 30 minute joy-ride. However, it turned into an ordeal that lasted about 18 hours.
Eddins said as night began to fall, fog began to set in across the lake and, with limited visibility, Dominic accidentally traveled 14 miles in the wrong direction until the boat completely ran out of gas.
The couple tried to use their cell phones to call for help, but they had no signal, and with fog across the water no one could see the helpless family adrift.
According to Eddins, Dominic then tried to use the boat's trolling motor to reach shore, but he didn't make it before the boat battery was drained completely dead.
Adding to this problem was the fact that a line of thunderstorms crossed the area around midnight, but thankfully the thunderstorm cells happened to split across the lake, sparing the family from choppy water that could have easily overturned the vessel.
Finally, around mid-day on Sunday, they drifted to an area where they had some cell phone signal and were able to call for help and give their GPS coordinates to 911 dispatchers, which was near the Harvey Creek area near the State Highway 147 Bridge, about midway up the lake.
Eddins and Yeates found them, provided them with fuel, jump-started their engine, and then escorted the tired, hungry family back to their boat launch and vehicle.
Eddins said "All too often we're involved in sad, tragic situations. It just feels so good to be involved in something that has a happy ending, like this".