Saving Sam Heaton


Saving Sam Heaton

Sam Heaton is a man’s man. He’s one of those funny, fun-loving outdoor guys who does everything from catching crappies and bluegills, to hunting turkeys, deer, geese, and ducks, and he’s good at it. In fact, he’s very, very good at it.

He’s so good that fishing and hunting has been his livelihood since he got out of Special Forces in Vietnam over 40 years ago. He’s been a guide, tournament fisherman, tackle inventor and innovator, and he’s currently the media relations man for MinnKota, Humminbird, and Cannon Downriggers.

Sam spends a lot of time outdoors, and like many people who do that for a living, he occasionally has some close calls with outside accidents, some serious. Like a recent one when he and his wife Lysa were checking out a photo shoot location for MinnKota in the Everglades west of Fort Lauderdale.

They were in an airboat, just the two of them, way back in the outback. They were far from everything in the jungle of the glades, with its insects, snakes, alligators, and sucking mire. It’s what the photo shoot required.

Sam was on the airboat controls, sawgrass whizzing by fast, when something happened and the boat went into a spin. In an instant they were in trouble, almost flipped, but the boat somehow stayed upright, though half sunk, and Sam was under it, badly hurt.

Lysa held Sam, but couldn’t move him or the boat off him. Their gear was a shambles, and Sam was in desperate pain. Everything was scattered, but Lysa had her cell phone, and Sam had his hand-held GPS. While Lysa held Sam’s head above water, comforting him, she dialed 911. She quickly explained their trouble to an emergency operator, and Sam read their GPS location.

Shortly a life-flight helicopter appeared, and Lysa and Sam were hauled up to safety, flown back to civilization and a hospital. Bumps and bruises, a little banged up, but they were pretty much okay.

It’s a happy ending. But without the cell phone and handheld GPS unit they would have been in a much worse predicament.

There’s a large and important telecommunications lesson here for many outdoorsmen who get back where others fear to tread.


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Bob McNally is currently a writer for AllOutdoor who has chosen not to write a short bio at this time.

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