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Man Saved After Boat Capsizes
A Cry For Help Answered

AUGUST 20, 2012 -- A desperate cry for help did not go unanswered.

When the boat he and his friend Gladin Harrison were fishing in capsized May 15 on Lake Jacomo, James Bowden clung to the flipped-over boat and yelled for help. He was approximately 30 yards from the shoreline, in water about 40 feet deep.

Sadly, Harrison disappeared beneath the water's surface. Authorities recovered the retired Kansas City firefighter's remains the next day. He was 85.

Four Jackson County employees and a private citizen, Joseph Groff, prevented this mishap from becoming a double tragedy. Their actions saved Bowden's life.

Hearing Cry For Help & Responding Promptly

For approximately 30 minutes, Bowden repeatedly shouted for help. Fortunately, two employees from the Jackson County Office of Communications just happen to step outside the office, located on Woods Chapel Road and along Lake Jacomo. County Multi-Media Specialist Tara Pollard and intern Anna Nicholson heard Bowden, and they hurried down an embankment to the water's edge.

Pollard even attempted to enter the water, but Bowden warned her not to risk her own safety. While Pollard offered words of encouragement from the shore, Nicholson rushed back to the office and phoned for assistance.

Responding to Nicholson's call to the Sheriff's Office, Jackson County Sheriff's Sergeant Doug Caster and county Park Ranger Derek Craft secured a boat and began racing toward the scene of the accident. In the meantime, Groff, operating his own craft on Lake Jacomo, noticed both the overturned fishing boat and Pollard and Nicholson waving to him for assistance.

Groff moved in closer. He was able to get a life preserver to Bowden and held onto him until Sergeant Caster and Ranger Craft arrived. They pulled Bowden from the water and as swiftly as possible got him transported to a hospital.

Employees & Citizen Honored

Jackson County Sheriff Mike Sharp presented Letters of Commendation to Pollard, Nicholson, Groff and Craft during a recent County Legislative meeting. Sergeant Craft received the Sheriff's Life-Saving Award.

In his letters to the employees and Groff, Sheriff Sharp noted that he and the entire Sheriff's Office staff "would like to commend you for your participation and efforts in the rescue of Mr. Bowden."

He concluded, "Your quick actions and calm words of encouragement contributed to the saving of the life of Mr. James Bowden."

After being presented to the Legislature, the county employees and Groff meet with Bowden's wife, who read to them a letter of appreciation from her husband.


Sheriff Mike Sharp presents awarded to Sergeant Doug Caster.

Sheriff Mike Sharp congratulates Tara Pollard and Joseph Groff (center).

Sheriff Mike Sharp congratulates Communications intern Anna Nicholson, while Park Ranger Derek Craft (far right) looks on.


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