WILSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — A fisherman is recovering after being critically injured in a boating accident on Old Hickory Lake Sunday.
Investigators said the motor on Cody Liddle’s boat hit something in the water, tearing the motor off his boat and flipping it into the cockpit where it landed on him.
“He’s definitely going to need the prayers for God to help him out as best as possible and to look over him for his road to recovery. It’s going to be a long road to go,” said Kristian Cabarcas, who was hosting Sunday’s fishing tournament when it happened.
Liddle was in his boat alone when he hit something in the water, and in a matter of seconds, the day on the lake took a terrifying turn.
“The boat hit either a submerged object that was floating or a stump in shallow water, that’s still undetermined and under investigation, but once that occurred, the motor broke off of its bracket and landed in the operator’s seat on top of the operator,” said Officer Landrum.
That motor was 700 pounds with a prop, according to Landrum, who is investigating the accident.
“Those props, you know, spin extremely fast. So you know, it’s still undetermined, when in the accident that prop finally cut off, but I would imagine that it was still, you know, rotating when it came into the passenger driver seat,” said Landrum.
Liddle was flown to Vanderbilt University Medical Center with critical injuries.
“I do know that he’s gone through multiple surgeries. He’s in stable condition, but his injuries were very critical,” said Landrum.
The TWRA said fortunately Liddle wasn’t ejected from the boat and was wearing his safety gear.
“He had his kill switch on luckily, and thankfully, he had his lifejacket on also. He was not ejected from the boat, but if he would have been, he was wearing his lifejacket and that would have at least given him another chance of survival,” explained Landrum.
As to what did happen still remains unknown, Landrum says the TWRA investigation will likely take another four to six months.
“We’re looking at everything. We’re looking at engine speed. We’re looking at engine RPM. We’re looking at the pitch of the prop. We’re looking at the trim of the motor. We’re going to be looking at the water levels that day,” Landrum said. “We’ll be looking at a lot of different factors to try to help lead us to a conclusion on what actually happened.”
The incident impacted the close-knit fishing community who wants to assure something like this doesn’t happen again.
“You never know what’s in the water in front of you or just underneath the surface,” fisherman Jim Barlow explained.
The incident is serving as a wake-up call as many are now looking to get their hands on “The Leash,” a product designed to reduce the risk of an outboard motor from flipping into the cockpit of the boat.
“Being with a military background, safety is paramount,” said Barlow who is known for his YouTube channel “Big Jim Fishing.”
He said he is one of few in the community that has The Leash installed on their boat.
“The leash is made out of Kevlar and it is attached to your motor mounts right here,” Barlow pointed out. “This bracket right here is actually attached to the motor that is attached to your jack plate and this Kevlar rope that is braided.”
The Leash costs around $300 and is in high demand locally following Sunday’s tragedy.
“It is a pricey add-on item that a lot of guys just don’t think about until it’s too late,” said Barlow.
An employee at Anderson Marine told News 2 they have had to place a restocking order for The Leash following the incident, saying their middle school, high school and college-sponsored teams are all ordering the safety product.
Meanwhile friends and family are asking for prayers for Liddle’s recovery. A GoFundMe account has been set up to help with expenses.