When you ask local shrimper Allen Carl why he is still alive today, he gives credit to his Savior and his son.
Carl spoke with the Georgetown Times as he sat on the docks next to the Sampit River Thursday, one week after he was nearly killed in an accident that occurred while he was shrimping.
A fund raiser is being planned to help Carl with medical expenses.
It began as a typical morning. At about 4 a.m. on June 30, he left home for another day on the river.
On this particular day, Carl was accompanied by his 11-year-old son, John Allen Carl, a Pawleys Island Christian School student.
Things were going great for the first couple of hours of the workday. The father and son had made it offshore and the shrimping nets were down.
Not far away, in a boat of his own, was Carl’s friend and fellow shrimper Junior Jordan.
At about 7 a.m., Carl decided it was time to make sure trash had not collected in his nets, so he used the winch to pull them from the water.
That is when tragedy struck — a moment that would change his life forever.
“My hand got caught in the rope,” Carl recalled.
The winch quickly overpowered Carl’s efforts to free himself and seconds later — as his son, the only other person in the boat, watched — his left arm was severed from his body.
The sight of gushing blood and a detached limb may have sent most people into a panic.
But, fortunately, Carl’s son was able to remain calm enough to take all the right steps to help his injured father survive.
“I saw him screaming and saw his arm was off, so I picked it up and put it in the cooler,” the 11-year-old said.
As John Allen scrambled to find a towel to help control the bleeding, his injured dad was able to maintain his composure enough to radio the U.S. Coast Guard for help.
After John Allen was able to help his father reduce the bleeding, he grabbed the steering wheel and drove the vessel to the area where Jordan was anchored while, at the same time, he talked to the Coast Guard by radio telling them what happened to his dad.
Jordan said he was below deck laying down when his son, Tray, ran to him informing him John Allen was yelling for help and was sailing in their direction.
Meanwhile, Ronnie Campbell — owner of Tow Boat U.S. for which Carl is a captain — heard the call on the radio and headed out in his boat.
“It was horrifying to me,” Campbell said of the sight he saw when he arrived.
Jordan was in the boat with Carl and his son when Campbell arrived.
By that time, the Coast Guard had informed them they had a helicopter on the way.
Carl said it seemed like it took forever for the chopper to arrive but, thanks to his son, the bleeding was kept to a minimum.
Once the Coast Guard arrived, Carl was hoisted from the boat in a basket and was flown to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.
He underwent two surgeries during his five-day stay in the hospital.
His medical ordeal is not over. He still has to heal and then undergo rehabilitation.
“But I am still here. I know it could have been so much different. But I am still here because the Lord Jesus used my son to help save me,” Carl said.
He said he wants to make sure he can still do things for himself he has always done.
“I don’t want to be a burden on anyone. I can still dress myself and tie my own shoes. I don’t want to be dependent on anyone,” Carl said.
John Allen said he has been called a hero by many since the ordeal.
“I can say I did not cry. I just about cried but I did not cry,” he said. But he did ask his dad if he was going to die.
“I told him I wasn’t going to die even though I was not sure at that moment,” Carl said.
Campbell also praised the actions of John Allen.
“He was the strongest one out there. He was definitely stronger than me,” Campbell said.
Fund raiser planned
Carl is a member of Screven Baptist Church in Maryville.
The congregation is planning a fund raiser for him later this month to help the family with medical expenses.
A fish fry will be held on Saturday, July 23, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Carry out plates will be $8 and will be ready for pick up around 11 a.m. Tickets are available from many of the church members or you may pay at the door.
Please call the church office at 546-2589 for more information.
Any donations can be mailed to Screven Baptist Church “Allen Carl Fund Raiser,” P.O. Box 2776, Georgetown, SC 29442.
By Scott Harper