Fishermen rescue boaters who fell into Randleman Lake

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RANDLEMAN, N.C. -- Two fishermen about to end their day on Randleman Lake were in the right place at the right time Wednesday to rescue two others who fell off their boat and into the chilly water.

Thomas Siler, 84, said he and his fishing buddy, Johnnie Ruff Jr., 71, were doing their weekly angling as usual when whey got knocked over by a strong gust of wind.

"The boat kinda got top heavy, and we both fell over in the water at the same time," Siler said.

Siler, who was near shore, held onto a tree. Ruff floated about 15 feet away from their boat, Siler said.

"I was praying that the good Lord save my friend," Siler said.

Nearby, Jonathan McDaniel and his friend TJ Wall were getting ready to finish their fishing for the day and were heading back to the dock with their motor turned off.

"We thought we heard some kind of noise--a faint scream," McDaniel said.

They turned around to help and saw Siler clinging to the tree. They pulled him into the boar and then rescued Ruff.

"I threw him a life jacket attached to a rope. Because it was so windy, I didn't want to pull it over on top of him," McDaniel said.

Ruff was rushed to the hospital. Doctors said the cold water, estimated at 53 degrees, caused a heart attack. Ruff died of the condition Thursday evening.

Siler reunited with his rescuers on Thursday.

"They're a gift from heaven. Had it not been for them, I'm certain it would have been much worse than it was," Siler said.

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