Midway resident Richard Fischer’s efforts to rescue a young girl and her father after a boating accident on Lake Norfork in 2018 has been recognized by one of the highest honors bestowed by the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission (AGFC).Fischer became the first civilian recipient in the seven-year history of AGFC’s Enforcement awards, when he was honored on March 3 in Little Rock with a Enforcement Civilian Medal.
The medal is awarded “to an individual who has demonstrated courage, resourcefulness and unselfishness, including high regards for other’s safety, alongside or in service to the AGFC Enforcement Division,” says Major Glenn Tucker of the AGFC.
In late November of 2018, Fischer was about to wrap up a fishing excursion when he heard a thump, followed by a young girl screaming. Fischer says he was a quarter- to a half-mile away when he saw two people in the water, being circled by a pontoon boat.
When Fischer arrived at the scene of the accident, he found a man and his daughter in the 45-degree water. The man had fallen off the pontoon boat and had been struck by the craft’s propeller.
After calling 911, Fischer helped the girl from the water. He could not get the father into the boat due to his injuries, so he held the man alongside it, as he traveled approximately 50 yards to the shore, where local firemen were on site to render aid. The girl survived the tragic accident, but the father succumbed to his severe injuries.
“The young girl was amazing, she’s the real hero,” says Fischer.
“Her father sunk probably three times, but she wasn’t going to let him go. It was very traumatic. I was just trying to get inside the circling pontoon and get them out of harm’s way,” Fischer adds.
A member of the Twin Lakes Walleye Club, Fischer retired to the area 15 years ago after living throughout the United States.
“I heard about (the area) from a guy who opened a fly store in west Yellowstone (National) Park 20 years ago and told me about the White River, the big browns,” Fischer recalls. “And when I was going to retire I said, ‘Where can I go to live that I can afford?'”
The walleye club put in a recommendation for Fischer, and Jeremy Risley of the AGFC Fisheries Division office in Mountain Home wrote the nominating letter for the award.
“I feel so honored,” says Fischer. “God put me there at that moment.”
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