Hunters Rescue Stranded Lady Screaming For Help

A lot of "what-ifs" played into the rescue of an Indiana woman stranded on the banks of the Ogeechee River.

Jordan Davis | December 10, 2015

Bonnie Coffel, of Indiana, stands with her brother after being rescued by some Emanuel County hunters.

On Sunday, Nov. 22, Keith Loveday suggested to a good friend, Allen Dykes, both of Swainsboro, they should take the Cruz brothers, Alexx and Zak, hunting the day before Thanksgiving.

Both Keith and Allen are members at Hawhammock Baptist Church and had recently gotten to know the Cruz brothers after their church hosted a 30-30 Ministries‘ DEER CAMP. Alexx and Zak were several of the youth campers participating during that weekend in mid October.

Wednesday, Nov. 25 rolled around, and Alexx and Allen took off to a stand, and Keith and Zak went to another. It would turn out to be quite an adventure for Keith and Zak After the two were settled into their stand not far from the Ogeechee River, it wasn’t long before Zak could hear someone yelling, “Help! Help!” The two then heard an ambulance approaching across the river but could not make out what was happening.

“Zak could hear better than I could,” laughed Keith.

By then, Keith’s wife had sent a text message notifying them that a lady was lost on the river in their area. Keith and Zak took action. They both hopped on Keith’s 4-wheeler and took off. They found a lady stranded on the river bank crying for help.

“She was soaking wet, scared and nervous,” said Keith. “I helped her take off some of the top layers of clothes she had on and gave her my dry jacket.”

Mrs. Bonnie Coffel, of Indiana, was visiting her brother from Waynesboro when they decided to kayak down the river. During their adventure, both kayaks capsized. One kayak had gotten away from them, so Bonnie waited on the banks while her brother kayaked downstream to find help.

“She was starting to get worried,” said Keith. “She had been waiting for almost two hours, and it was getting dark.”

Shortly after Keith and Zak found Bonnie, her brother returned from downstream where he found someone at home and used their phone to call 911. Keith and Zak helped the lady to Keith’s house where they provided her with warm, dry clothes. Game wardens, sheriff’s vehicles and ambulances soon surrounded Keith’s house to make sure that everyone was OK. What if Keith had not suggested the hunting trip? Would Keith have heard the cries for help if Zak weren’t there?

“It’s a blessing we went hunting,” said Keith. “We were probably the only ones in the area who could’ve heard her yelling.”

Bonnie returned the clothes she borrowed from Keith and his family the next day in good spirits and good health.

Zak Cruz, of Swainsboro, could hear a woman yelling for help while he was hunting on the afternoon of Nov. 25. Zak was hunting with Keith Loveday, a member of Hawhammock Baptist Church. Keith got to know Zak through a 30-30 Ministries’ DEER CAMP that Hawhammock hosted during mid October, which spurred the November hunting trip. Zak holds a .30/06 rifle he won during the 30-30 Ministries’ weekend.


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