A grateful Bloomington father lost his leg but not his life during a terrifying boating accident. His calm and collected teenage son is his hero.
"We thank God that my husband survived," said Sandi Pickel.
Pickel is certain she would be a widow if her 17-year-old son Andrew had not kept his wits about him Wednesday evening. Andrew and his father Merle had spent several years rebuilding a speed boat. Merle took it for a test spin on Lake Monroe. Andrew followed in another boat just in case something went wrong. Something did.
"Steering malfunctioned somehow and jerked to the left and caused him to flip over the side," said Andrew.
Merle's leg got mangled in the propeller. Andrew said he just acted instinctively.
"Somehow it pushed him far enough away from the boat that I could drive my boat up next to him and grab him. So after that I just called 911 and took him to shore," Andrew said. "At a time like that, you can't really freeze up. You just have to do what you have to do."
"He had to make multiple, instantaneous, life altering decisions and he made all the right ones and we are very proud of him," Sandi said.
"It's quite an experience, you know, coming that close to losing somebody that close to you. It impacts you pretty strongly," Andrew said.
At Bloomington Hospital, doctors amputated Merle's right leg just above the knee.
"When he woke up out of surgery, I made sure he was the first one to see him and he said, ‘There's my hero,'" Sandi said.