The traumatic story of a miraculous encounter

By Lakecia Shockley - bio - email

Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

RUSK COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - The Collins fish all over the world, but when they fished at Lake Striker in Rusk County, something went terribly wrong. Barbara suffered a heart attack and fell in the water. Her husband desperately tried to hold on to her.

"When she came up she was struggling trying to reach the boat and she had this jacket on with a hoody and I reached out and grabbed it," said Gene.

"It was cold and I couldn't feel my feet after a while," said Barbara. "I didn't think he'd really let me go."

"She kept looking at me and saying, 'I love you' and I said, 'I love you, too' and I thought, 'don't give up on me now,'" said Gene. "I said, 'we got that great grand baby that was born earlier this week that we haven't seen.'"

Gene was not able to pull his wife back into the boat, but little did they know, help was on the way. New Rusk County Sheriff, Danny Pirtle, was at his home near the lake when dispatchers gave him the call.

"My wife got over to the edge and I stepped to the front of the boat and I reached for her and grabbed her by the collar on her blouse because she was just about to go under," said Pirtle.

Sheriff Pirtle managed to get Barbara inside his boat and get her to shore.

"I don't try to be a hero," said Pirtle. "I'm there to serve the people and I'm just thankful that I was there to help them."

Right now, this "new sheriff in town" is off to a great start.

"He's my hero," exclaimed Barbara.

Barbara Collins is recovering at Good Shepherd Medical Center in Longview.