Shanna Sissom is the managing editor of The Herald, a newspaper in Plainview, Texas.
On July 10, 2012, Sissom writes of two men’s near death experience while fishing:
It was supposed to be a routine fishing trip among friends, but what happened that fateful day when both believed their deaths inevitable changed two men, in ways they are struggling to come to terms.
They were out fishing on Theo Lake in Caprock Canyon State Park [near Amarillo, Texas] when Jesus caught a fish and asked Steve to secure it on a chain hook with the rest of their catch. But the fish, still fighting, slapped its way near the shoreline, and Steve tried to rake it away from the water with his foot, Then, his right foot slipped off a rock.
“And I fell right into the water,” Steve recalled. “The next thing I know, I’m underwater and can’t get up for air.”
The water where they were is deep, and he can’t swim. He also was weighted down with blue jeans and heavy boots. Jesus, himself in denim overalls and heavy boots, jumped into the water to rescue Steve.
“I knew he was in trouble, big trouble,” Jesus explained.
But Steve was panicked, fighting for his life, and after Jesus managed to get him briefly to the surface, both men went under in the struggle. As they plunged deeper, and couldn’t get back up, both accepted death as imminent.
As water entered Steve’s lungs, the daylight he previously saw became darkness. “My last breath went out and I said (to myself) ‘I guess this is it,’ and that’s when it went dark,” he said.
Meanwhile, Jesus was coping in those moments with what he believed to be his own imminent death. “As we went under deeper, all I could think of was my family, and I’d never see them again as I thought about my wife, my daughter and my grandchildren.”
Their whole lives were “flashing” before them, both later shared.
But what happened next is something neither man can explain, and the expressions on their faces change dramatically as they try to put it into words.
“Every time I talk about it, or think about it, it gives me a big lump in my throat,” Jesus said softly, gently shaking his head.
As the men described it, they were suddenly catapulted to the surface, without effort on their part.
“There’s just no way to explain it, I felt like I went up in a hurry,” Jesus said. “I grabbed tight hold of Steve and brought him up with me. It was by some strange force, something got me out of the water, I don’t know what, but I just went up, was propelled,”
For his part, Steve doesn‘t struggle with accepting in his mind there was divine intervention in play. “I believe it was God, and if not God, one of his angels,” Steve said. “I had given up completely, and then we went up.”
Jesus’ wife Gloria said she prays often, and also believes her brother, Benny Perez’s unlikely presence at that lake during a time he normally doesn’t fish also was part of a divine intervention. Perez was able to grab a stick and pull the men out when they resurfaced.
Once on dry land, Steve coughed up water but soon he and Jesus would embrace and laugh after the ordeal, as a way of coping with what almost happened, they said.
“It was to keep us from getting sentimental and crying, really,” Steve said. “I owe him my life, I really do.”
The men felt a stronger bond on the drive home, but the following hours and days would be all about processing the near-death experience.
“When I got home to my wife, I broke down,” Jesus said.
[...] Steve [...] believes there is a purpose for what almost happened, but didn’t.“We were both given a second chance for a reason,” Steve said.
In a follow-up essay three days later, Shanna Sissom made this observation: “If they were in a river, the idea of a current pushing them upward would seem reasonable. But a lake?”