Charles Melville Lewis, 70, oyster planter, saved Robert L. Edwards, 42, bakery machine operator; W. F. Funk, 55, bread salesman, and Robert S. Gulley, Jr., 46, bakery foreman, from drowning, Warsaw, Virginia, November 16, 1968. When strong winds during a severe rainstorm capsized their boat in the Rappahannock River about a mile from the bank, Edwards, Funk, and Culley swam with the aid of life jackets to a submerged sand bar. After about an hour, the rising water forced the men to try to swim to the bank despite the continuing storm, but they became fatigued and were separated. About an hour after the men had left the sand bar, Lewis was checking boats at a moorage on the bank and heard a faint call for help. Using a flat-bottomed boat equipped with an outboard motor and without delaying to bail six inches of water which had accumulated in it, Lewis started out in the storm to give aid. He found Edwards, who was barely conscious, 2,000 feet from the bank in water eight feet deep. When Lewis attempted to pull Edwards into the craft, it tilted and took in more water. Cautiously counterbalancing the boat, Lewis with much difficulty managed to get Edwards aboard. Edwards told him there were two others in the water and then lost consciousness. As the rainstorm continued, Lewis on impulse turned and started in another direction. After moving a quarter-mile he came upon Funk, by then completely exhausted, in water 18 feet deep. Lewis took Funk into the boat. He then began searching for the third man, again on instinct, as the storm abated. After proceeding about 900 feet, Lewis found Culley floating unconscious in water 30 feet deep. Positioning the other men for balance, Lewis then took Culley aboard. By that time the boat contained about seven inches of water and had freeboard of not more than five inches. Nearly exhausted, Lewis piloted the boat to the moorage. Edwards, Funk, and Gulley were hospitalized. They recovered.
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