(MCMINNVILLE, Tenn.) — Two Tennessee brothers already have plans to fish again next weekend, despite dangling precariously over a dam for three hours after their boat’s motor died Sunday.
Greg and Gary Cherry were fishing for bass and perch on their weekly outing when the motor of their Bass Tracker III conked out at the edge of the Barren Fork River Dam in McMinnville, Tenn.
The current began tugging the boat over the edge when Greg Cherry, 47, shoved the motor down to hold the boat in place and called for his brother to quickly join him in the back of the boat.
“Weight transfer is the best thing in that situation,” Greg Cherry told ABC News.
“We locked our arms and I said, ‘We’re in this together,'” Greg Cherry, 47, said. “I said, ‘I love you,’ and [Gary] said, ‘I love you, too.’ And if one of us goes over, we’re going over together.”
They held the motor down for much of the next three hours as they awaited rescue.
“We probably had 30 percent of the boat on top of the dam when we were in it,” Greg Cherry said. The rest of the boat hung over the 12-foot drop.
The motor on their 33-year-old boat hadn’t given them trouble in the past, but wore out on a day when the current was strong and the water temperature was a cool 48 degrees.
“We were both scared, but we prayed to God and God just watched over us,” Gary Cherry said.
A bystander saw the fishermen and asked if they needed help. He called 911 and rescue crews from Warren and White counties and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency arrived on the scene.
Firefighters threw a large rope from a nearby overpass to the brothers, who latched it to the boat to keep it from dropping over the edge. They couldn’t pull the boat with rope, Gary Cherry, 49, said, because if the rope snapped, the brothers would have gone over.
Rescue boats carefully approached the Bass Tracker III, but had trouble rescuing the Cherrys because of the forceful current. Three hours later, the brothers were able to climb into the rescue boat and safely get back to shore.
Once the rescue crews cut the rope from the boat, it plunged over the dam.
“If we didn’t have our life jackets on and went over, we’d probably be done,” Gary Cherry said. “You can replace a boat, but you can’t replace two brothers.”
The boat suffered very little damage and the brothers were able to retrieve it Monday. The only thing lost was Gary’s fishing rod.
The brothers will either repair or replace the boat, and don’t plan on missing time away from the water.
Greg Cherry said he already has plans to go fishing next week. “Fishing for me and my brother is a way of life,” he said.
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