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GRAND LAKE, LA (KPLC) -
According to Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, search and rescue authorities found two missing boaters alive on Grand Lake Saturday morning, Oct. 27, after a 12-hour search.
Officials said Tyler Smith, 24, of Iota, and Gus Atkinson, 28, of Gueydan, were found by search and rescue personnel at 9 a.m. Saturday at Cypress Island in the northern section of Grand Lake.
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division agents were notified at 9 p.m. Oct. 26 about two overdue boaters in the Grand Lake and Lake Arthur areas.
Officials said LDWF agents immediately coordinated a search effort throughout the night with the U.S. Coast Guard, Cameron Parish Sheriff's Office and the Vermilion Parish Sheriff's Office.
Smith and Atkinson launched their 14-foot aluminum flat bottom boat from the Hwy. 14 boat launch on Lake Arthur. By 1:30 p.m., they were fishing at the "Catfish Locks" on Grand Lake. At 5 p.m. family members notified the two fishermen of a storm kicking up in the area.
Officials said the men started to make their way back to the Hwy. 14 launch, but ran into heavy winds and waves that swamped their boat. They were able to walk their boat to the shore area and bail out the water and get back underway.
However, officials said shortly thereafter, the 25-horsepower motor quit working and they were unable to get it started again. The men lost communications and decided to drag the boat to the shore area at Cypress Island and wait until help arrived. Family members notified authorities at 9 p.m. who searched until they found them Saturday morning at 9 a.m.
"These men did a lot of right things to survive this ordeal. The most important thing they did was that they had a float plan by notifying family beforehand where they would be fishing and the family knew about what time they should be back," said Capt. Robert Buatt, who coordinated the search. "This float plan allowed the family to make a decision early on that they were missing and needed help. The men also were able to get the boat to an area that was less turbulent and safe once they knew they were not going to make it back to the launch."
LDWF will be the lead investigative agency for this boating incident.