Angels take many forms.
If he didn't know it before, Daniel Enox is certain of it now. When the Henrietta, Texas resident needed one the most, a guardian angel came along in the guise of 70-year-old Lester Cox, who arrived carried not on celestial wings, but puttering along in a two-man bass boat powered by a small trolling motor.
It all happened without warning about 500 to 600 yards from shore in 12 feet of water on Waurika Lake. Minutes, really, but time enough to claim the life of Enox's best friend and nearly cost him his life, as well. If not for Lester Cox, that is.
Sixty-two-year-old Enox and Gary Dale Moore, 54, were staying at Kiowa 1 Campground. Their friendship went back at least 35 years and revolved around the outdoors.
"We would go camping every year and stay about three weeks. We hunted and fished together," Enox said.
This year they decided to fish Waurika Lake.
On May 10, the two men set out in a 14-1/2-foot aluminum fishing boat powered by an 8-horsepower motor. They'd tied a line to a rock, but the rock didn't go where they wanted. With the motor in neutral, Enox stood up and straddled the front seat. Enox was taking in the line when it snapped. Off balance, he flipped backwards into the water.
Moore, by the motor, jumped up, calling "I'll save you, buddy" and apparently knocked the throttle into gear. The sudden movement threw Moore into the lake, as well. Enox went under and when he resurfaced, the boat and motor ran over him.
With no hand on the tiller, the boat circled - again and again and still again.
"It was running third throttle," Enox recalled. "That's running pretty fast. It ran over me five times and the propeller hit me in the head four times."
He looked to his right and saw Moore trying to get back to the boat. And then he saw Moore's eyes roll back in his head and he went under. He didn't come back up.
Weaker from every bruising contact with the circling boat, Enox prayed - either for deliverance or an end to his suffering.
And from a distance, he heard someone hollering for him to hang on, help was on the way.
On one pass, the circling boat's propeller gashed his foot. Finally on another pass, his shorts became tangled in the prop and that killed the motor. He didn't have strength to get back into the boat, but he managed to hang onto a limb in the woody cove. Still in the distance, Lester Cox, who lives southeast of Chickasha, was closing in with his small boat.
"I was just there to give a helping hand," Cox said, downplaying his role in the rescue. "I thought I heard somebody holler and thought they were probably in trouble. I headed over there."
Cox estimated he was about an eighth of a mile away when he heard the cries. He had been checking jug lines and fishing for crappie among the stumps and was headed back to open water when he spotted the circling boat.
"There wasn't nobody in the boat I could see," he recalled. "It seemed like forever, but it was probably 10 minutes to get there."
He wasn't able to lift Enox into his small boat, so did the next best thing.
"I grabbed one arm and told him to try to relax and hold on," Cox said. "I kept talking to him and eased him toward shore."
He dialed 911 on the way.
Enox said Cox reached him in the nick of time.
"A hand reached and grabbed me and pulled me out of the water. He said, 'I'm not going to let go of you.' I guess he dragged me to the other side with that trolling motor," Enox said. "He was able to get there when I needed him the most. This big stout hand pulled me up. He's a really wonderful man."
On shore, Cox stayed with Enox waiting for officials to arrive. Enox was able to direct them to the spot where Moore went under.
"It took nine hours to recover his body - right where I last seen him. There were no marks on him," he said.
"I am so grateful to this man," he continued. "I treaded water for about 15 minutes. Between the Lord and Lester Cox, the two of them saw me through it."
Angels take many forms.
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